Sympathy but little hope for Ferrari

NOBODY, APART perhaps from the McLaren team, wanted to see the most gripping world championship contest of the decade peter out like a damp firework in the wake of the exclusion of Ferrari's Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher from their remarkable one-two success in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.

NOBODY, APART perhaps from the McLaren team, wanted to see the most gripping world championship contest of the decade peter out like a damp firework in the wake of the exclusion of Ferrari's Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher from their remarkable one-two success in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.

But though the team principals appear to have been discouraging comment, the mood in Formula One circles is that rules are rules. Ferrari has dropped a ball in the weeds that cannot be retrieved, no matter how much the well-being of the forthcoming Japanese Grand Prix might depend upon it.

Feelings in Italy run high for the legendary team, but where blind anger at injustice might have been expected just as Irvine's fingers were stretching to grasp what became a poisoned chalice, the reality is that the overriding emotion is anger that Ferrari should have made what seems a trivial - but monumental - engineering error.

One leading team owner said: "We all have access to the Fédération Internationale de Automobilisme [the sport's ruling body] measuring rig at races, which enables us to confirm our cars comply with the technical regulations. Clearly there was some sort of oversight at Ferrari... there's a bit of Ferrari in all of us and I'm sure many would like to see them win the title, but the rule book is there specifically to avoid emotional interpretations in these difficult situations. It's a disappointing way to end the championship, but this is a multi-million dollar sport and everyone has to accept their responsibilities."

Ferrari claims that the irregularity in its barge boards had no performance advantage, but the side of the car is a crucial aerodynamic area and the international sporting code specifically states that the absence of a performance advantage is no defence.

In Malaysia, Ferrari went to great lengths to cover the barge boards at every opportunity when the cars were in the pits. Then, in qualifying, Irvine and Schumacher ran only eight of their permitted dozen laps, and when FIA scrutineers came to check the cars afterwards they could not, as they had apparently already been dismantled. That might suggest that Ferrari wished to protect an advantage, but such secrecy is, in fact, common practice. The subsequent claim by their sporting director, Jean Todt, that they had been passed by scrutineers in Germany and Malaysia is a red herring, since competitors must ensure that their cars comply at all times with the regulations.

In every recent instance in which teams have appealed against exclusion for technical infringements the appeals have failed, even when the mistake has been inadvertent.

McLaren last night issued a statement which offered its sympathy to Ferrari, but insisted that the decision should be upheld and interpreted in a wider context. "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," it read.

Mika Hakkinen raced under appeal in the 1997 Belgian Grand Prix after McLaren inadvertently used fuel which did not come from the batch homologated specifically for that race. The appeal failed even though the fuel was of identical, legal specification. At Imola, in 1985, Alain Prost's McLaren was excluded from victory in the San Marino Grand Prix, even though the fluid loss that rendered it one kilo underweight only occurred on its slowing-down lap and not before it had taken the chequered flag.

Ferrari is hoping the drivers, at least, will have their points restored and the penalty will apply only to the team. There has only been one occasion when the FIA has allowed this: after Williams and Benetton infringed fuel regulations in Brazil in 1995. That separation of drivers and teams no longer applies. Ferrari, which vehemently opposed the original ruling, may now cling desperately to the rider which reads "except in exceptional circumstances" at their appeal, which will be heard in Paris on Friday.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum