McLaren Loses Appeal of Disqualification from Brazil Race

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, April 4, 2000-Team West McLaren-Mercedes has lost its appeal to have David Coulthard's disqualification from second place in the Brazilian Grand Prix overturned. Race officials disqualified Coulthard's car after...

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, April 4, 2000-Team West McLaren-Mercedes has lost its appeal to have David Coulthard's disqualification from second place in the Brazilian Grand Prix overturned.

Race officials disqualified Coulthard's car after discovering in post-race technical inspection that the front-wing end plates did not conform to the regulations. The endplates must be at least 50 millimeters (1.97 inches) above a specified reference plane. Officials found that the end plates on Coulthard's car were only 43 mm (1.69 inches) above the reference plane. Even allowing for the 5 mm (.197 of an inch) tolerance that the rules allow for any possible manufacturing problems, the endplates were still 2 mm (.0788 of an inch) beyond specifications.

Team McLaren lodged its appeal on the basis that the car started the race in legal trim but the wing was damaged due to the extremely bumpy nature of the track.

The FIA's International Court of Appeal rejected the appeal, saying, "It is the duty of each competitor to prove that his car complies with the regulations in their entirety at all times during the event." As for McLaren's reasoning that the bumps on the track caused the problem, the court ruled that, "All the competitors, including the appellant, had been subjected to the rigors of the circuit in question from the first practice session onward, and that all steps could thus have been taken to make the necessary adjustments to the cars to allow them to cope with these difficulties."

Team West McLaren-Mercedes released a statement saying that Coulthard's car started the Brazilian Grand Prix in fully legal trim. "However," the statement said, "due to the nature of the circuit and the harshness of the bumps, substantial damage was encountered to the underside of the car and the front wing end plate moved on its axis. These factors resulted in the distance between the reference plane and the lowest part on the front wing end plate being two millimeters less than is permissible. The measurements taken at the end of the race represented a minor discrepancy, the causes of which were beyond the team's control."

Said Martin Whitmarsh, managing director of McLaren International, "Naturally we are disappointed with the final outcome of this appeal, but we will not allow this to obscure our focus on the World Championship and the start of the European season at the San Marino Grand Prix later this week."

The results of the appeal mean that, after two races, neither Coulthard nor his teammate Mika Hakkinen has scored points. With two victories, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher leads the championship with 20 points. "Obviously today's result isn't what I had hoped for," Coulthard said, "but it's (the San Marino Grand Prix at) Imola this weekend, and I'm looking forward to getting into the rhythm at one of my favorite tracks, and that is what I'm now concentrating on."

-IMS/IRL-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren