Ferrari's appeal to be contested by Stewart-Ford

Stewart-Ford will join McLaren-Mercedes in contesting Ferrari's appeal on Friday against disqualification from the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Stewart-Ford will join McLaren-Mercedes in contesting Ferrari's appeal on Friday against disqualification from the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The sport's world governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Automobilisme, is holding a court of appeal in Paris for Ferrari to make the case that Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher should be reinstated as first and second in last Sunday's race. If the stewards' verdict is upheld and the panel rejects calls for leniency, McLaren will be confirmed as winners of the constructors' championship and Mika Hakkinen as world drivers' champion.

The court's decision will have other repercussions. Stewart, who were provisionally promoted to second and third in Malaysia, are on the verge of finishing their third season in Formula One as the fourth-best team. They are eight points ahead of Williams with only the Japanese Grand Prix remaining. A successful appeal by Ferrari would reduce Stewart's advantage to a fragile three points.

A spokesman for Stewart said: "We have taken up the invitation to attend the hearing because the outcome will directly effect us. We feel that if Ferrari are found to have contravened the rules then the disqualification should hold.

"There's obviously a big difference between going into the final round with an advantage of eight points rather than three. [But] it's not just the points. It's about prestige and the position in the pits next season."

A compromise has been mooted. The court could punish Ferrari, but acquit their "innocent drivers" and leave Irvine with a four-point lead. McLaren can scarcely be expected to consider such a solution fair and appropriate.

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