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Home > Formula 1

McLaren accuses Bernoldi of unsporting behaviour.
27th May, 2001

After the Monaco Grand Prix, McLaren team boss Ron Dennis was reported to be unhappyBernoldi holds up DC during the race. about the fact that Arrows driver Enrique Bernoldi held up David Coulthard for half the race. The Scotsman had an electronics problem on the grid at the start of warm up, which resulted in him losing pole position and starting the race at the back of the grid. Hence he landed up challenging Bernoldi for track position. But Bernoldi was not a backmarker - they were racing. The young Brazilian was instructed by his team to hold position, and many believe that this was perfectly fair. A marshal was even seen (mistakenly) waving a blue flag at the Arrows car.

Only when Bernoldi pitted on lap 45, was Coulthard able to pass and started to gain track position and places. It was reported that Dennis and Mercedes' Norbert Haug went over to Arrows and had words with Bernoldi.

"Ron and Norbert came up to me after the race in the pit-lane and they were both very aggressive," said the rookie driver. "They told me if you continue to drive in that sort of way again, you are not going to be in F1 for very long. I was very scared, they were very aggressive." But the McLaren boss had a different view of the situation. "That's rubbish. I said nothing of the sort. I have no influence over his career at all. It was quite a while after the race when I talked to him and I was cool, calm and collected. and I wasn't angry.

"I just told him that in my opinion it was unsporting behaviour, as every time David made an attempt to overtake, he cut him off. You could argue it's motor racing but in 15th position it's different when you're hampering a driver who is clearly faster and has the World Championship at stake.

"I told him I felt his behaviour was unsporting and not reflective of an attitude a young developing driver should be putting into his career. His response was he had been instructed to do so by the team. If that team is so desperate for television it has to resort to those strategies then you can question the behaviour of the team as a whole."

Arrows team boss Tom Walkinshaw is reported to be furious. He denied that Bernoldi was told to hold position because of TV exposure and questioned Dennis' logic. He said he was happy with Bernoldi't performance, particularly the fact that he managed to keep Coulthard behind him, despite the pressure.

It's a pity that the controversy surrounds, what was eventually a strong drive for Coulthard who managed to salvage fifth place and two points. Arrows were also in trouble with Sauber. Team boss Peter Sauber blamed one of the cars for hitting Nick Heidfeld and putting an end to his race on lap one.




 
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