BAR banned for two races, loses Imola points

BAR has been banned from taking part in the next two Grands Prix after Wednesday's hearing at the International Court of Appeal. The team will also be stripped of the ten points won by Jenson Button and Takuma Sato, third and fifth respectively,...

BAR has been banned from taking part in the next two Grands Prix after Wednesday's hearing at the International Court of Appeal. The team will also be stripped of the ten points won by Jenson Button and Takuma Sato, third and fifth respectively, at the San Marino GP. A further six month ban has been suspended for a year.

Stewards at Imola found Button's car to be underweight after the race but accepted an explanation from the team and no action was taken. The FIA appealed the decision "because it did not respect the technical and sporting regulations of Formula One as well as the rules of the International Sporting Code."

BAR denied that they had intentionally used a fuel system that would give an advantage over rivals. The car at first complied with the minimum weight regulation but stewards asked that it be drained of fuel and be weighed again, whereupon it was found to be underweight. A hidden fuel tank was speculated to have caused the discrepancy.

The case was heard in Paris on May 4th and after overnight consideration it was decided that both Button and Sato's cars failed to comply with the regulations.

"The evidence submitted to the Court confirmed that both vehicles competing for Lucky Strike BAR Honda in the event concerned had the same specification fuel tanks," said a statement from the FIA.

The court deemed it was not possible to find that the team had deliberately committed fraud, only "a highly regrettable negligence and lack of transparency" for not asking for a clarification of the rules before using the fuel system.

The FIA had initially requested that BAR be excluded from the 2005 championship but a two race ban and the loss of points was imposed instead. This means BAR will miss this weekend's Spanish GP and the following race in Monaco.

"The facts in this case are very clear," said FIA president Max Mosley after the verdict was announced. "The team was asked to pump the fuel out of their car. They left 15 litres in the tank and told us it was empty. Under the circumstances, we feel they have been treated rather leniently."

BAR chief executive Nick Fry said the team is "appalled" by the decision and claimed the evidence presented had proved that they had complied with the regulations. BAR is "examining its options" and is taking legal advice.

"We repeat that at no time did BAR Honda run underweight at the San Marino Grand Prix and this was also unchallenged by the FIA," said Fry. "While the International Court of Appeal rejected the FIA's original accusations of fraud and deception, BAR Honda says that this penalty is wholly and grossly disproportionate."

Fry told reporters that BAR intends to compete at Barcelona: "Our objective is to race this weekend," he stated. "We have some of the best sporting lawyers in Britain, probably the world, working on this now."

"Obviously... we need to get a judgement from a court pretty soon; probably Friday morning. I think we need to get the car into qualifying so I think that will be our final deadline."

Normally the F1 grid has to comprise of 20 cars but, given the circumstances, Bernie Ecclestone said that Barcelona will probably be run with 18 entries as it's too short notice to expect other teams to field a third car.

BAR losing its points from Imola means that McLaren's Alex Wurz is promoted to third place. Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve moves up to fourth, Toyota's Jarno Trulli to fifth, Williams' Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber to sixth and seventh, and Red Bull's Tonio Liuzzi to eighth.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Mark Webber , Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Alexander Wurz , Nick Fry , Bernie Ecclestone
Teams Sauber , McLaren , Williams