World Title Hangs in Balance

LAW AND ORDER: WORLD TITLE HANGS IN BALANCE OF FERRARI APPEAL THE CASE: The Ferraris of Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher were disqualified after finishing first and second, respectively, in the Malaysian Grand Prix on Oct. 17 because the ...

LAW AND ORDER: WORLD TITLE HANGS IN BALANCE OF FERRARI APPEAL

THE CASE:

The Ferraris of Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher were disqualified after finishing first and second, respectively, in the Malaysian Grand Prix on Oct. 17 because the deflector panels, also known as barge boards, on their cars violated article 3.12.1 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations. Barge boards are long, aerodynamic fins on either side of the cockpit. The curved boards aid airflow to the rear of the car and into the radiators in the sidepods, promoting stability and cooling.

The cars were deemed illegal because the underside of the boards were 1 centimeter (.39 of an inch) narrower than the top, making it appear that an edge was cut from the board.

Basically, from 33cm behind the front wheel of the car to the back the only parts of the car that should be visible when viewed from directly below are floor of the car and the side mirrors. But the deflector panels on the Ferraris curved out (by 1 cm) so that they were visible from underneath the car.

According to the official report, parts of the deflector panels do not lie on either reference or step planes in accordance with Article 3.12.1 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations. Ferrari appealed after the ban was announced. The FIA International Court of Appeal will hear Ferrari's appeal Oct. 22 in Paris. Here is the exact text of article 3.12.1 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations:

3.12 Bodywork facing the ground

3.12.1 All sprung parts of the car situated more than 33cm behind the front wheel center line and more than 33cm forward of the rear wheel center line, and which are visible from underneath, must form surfaces which lie on one of two parallel planes, the reference plane or the step plane. This does not apply to any parts of rear view mirrors which are visible, provided each of these areas does not exceed 90cm when projected to a horizontal plane above the car. The step plane must be 50mm above the reference plane.

THE DECISION MAKERS:

The FIA International Court of Appeal is the highest judicial body of the FIA, and it is based in Paris. It consists of a panel of 15 judges from all over the world, elected by the General Assembly, and it is totally independent from the "sport" branch of the FIA. The judges are experienced lawyers or judges with a motorsport background, but no longer involved in the sport.

The appeal will be heard Oct. 22 in Paris, by five judges, each from a different country whose identity will be kept secret until the hearing. The FIA has stressed that these judges, none of whom will be from the countries of the parties involved, will not be influenced by any outside opinion, irrespective of the person who expresses it. They will decide the case solely on the basis of the evidence and arguments put forward during the hearing.

THE STATEMENTS:

Ferrari: "For the avoidance of doubt, Ferrari deems it useful to clarify its position in respect of the exclusion of its two cars on the occasion of the last Grand Prix in Malaysia. Ferrari understands that the Stewards of the race, considering the very little time available and the information at their disposal, had little choice but to exclude the cars from the race results.

"Ferrari would however like to stress that the alleged irregularity, if any, is entirely accidental and occurred in total good faith. Ferrari has now made in-depth tests in a wind tunnel in the presence of independent experts, which confirm that the turning vanes used in Malaysia have made no difference whatsoever to the performance of its cars.

"The sport result achieved by Ferrari's cars and drivers on the occasion of the race have accordingly not been biased by the facts that have triggered their exclusion, and Ferrari is confident that it will be able to prove it conclusively on the occasion of the Friday hearing in front of the Court of Appeal, for which it has the highest respect."

McLaren: "Whilst we understand the sympathy and requests for leniency that some people have expressed, the fact that the outcome of the Malaysian Grand Prix can decide this year's World Championship is irrelevant. "The more important the outcome of a race, the more important it is that the rules are applied consistently and fairly in accordance with the procedures, which have been strictly adhered to in the past.

Source: IRL/IMS

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Michael Schumacher
Teams Ferrari , McLaren