Michael Schumacher admits he was entirely to blame for the first lap chaos at the Malaysian Grand Prix. But was his mistake serious enough to warrant a pitlane drive-through penalty?

Michael Schumacher admits he was entirely to blame for the first lap chaos at the Malaysian Grand Prix. But was his mistake serious enough to warrant a pitlane drive-through penalty?

On the approach to the second corner, the German was so desperate to keep David Coulthard behind him that his Ferrari nudged Jarno Trulli’s Renault. In the ensuing melee, Trulli spun and Rubens Barrichello was forced onto the grass. The rear wing of Juan-Pablo Montoya’s Williams-BMW was knocked off by the Jaguar of Antonio Pizzonia – which had been bashed from behind.

"It was a tough race with an unfortunate start. I made a mistake and hit Jarno and I have apologised to him,” Schumacher told afterwards. “That was the decisive moment of my race.”

Schumacher was forced wide onto the grass where he rejoined in the middle of the pack. He had to pit for a new front wing and was then slapped with a drive-through penalty by race stewards.

The German made no less than five pit stops throughout the race but eventually finished in sixth place.

Ferrari’s technical director Ross Brawn made no official objection to the penalty, but sprang to Schumacher’s defence.

Asked by ITVF1's Ted Kravitz whether he blamed Schumacher for the first lap accident, Brawn said: "The stewards did but I will always support my drivers."

"It was a bit of a messy race - which was a shame, because I thought we would have enjoyed a super race with McLaren," he added.