Schumacher and Coulthard reinstated

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The Independent Online

Formula One met the challenge to find another twist to its unending drama last night when the authorities reinstated Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard as winner and runner-up in the Brazilian Grand Prix and yet confirmed the disqualifications of their teams, Benetton and Williams respectively, for fuel irregularities.

The ruling of the Court of Appeal of FIA, the international motor racing federation, following an all-day hearing in Paris means Schumacher takes over from the Austrian Ferrari driver, Gerhard Berger, as the leader of the world drivers' championship after two races.

The Benetton-Renault driver now holds a four-point advantage over Coulthard's Williams-Renault team-mate, Damon Hill.

The independent tribunal members from Portugal, Belgium, Greece and the Netherlands decided the teams and their French fuel suppliers, Elf, had failed in their appeals but that the drivers were blameless and had not gained any advantage by using petrol not approved by the authorities.

Benetton and Williams, as well as losing their points towards the World Constructors' Championship were also each fined $200,000 (about £125,000) for their sins.

It was a rare and consoling legal victory for Schumacher who effectively forfeited four races because of disciplinary measures en route to his championship success last season.

The judgement is also a boost for Coulthard, who had to pull out of last Sunday's Argentinian Grand Prix with an electronics problem.

Hill will not be so content nor will Berger or his team,who had no sympathy for their opponents after the announcemernt of their disqualification

Formula One, however, has conveniently buoyed its contest for the drivers' title at a time when Williams have a distinct car advantage over Benetton.

They resume racing with the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola a fortnight on Sunday.

BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX (So Paulo, 26 March) Revised results after reinstatement of Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard:

1 M Schumacher (Ger) Benetton-Renault 1hr 38min 34.154sec; 2 D Coulthard (GB) Williams-Renault, 8.060sec behind; 3 G Berger (Aut) Ferrari, one lap behind; 4 M Hkkinen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes, one lap; 5 J Alesi (Fr) Ferrari, one lap; 6 M Blundell (GB) McLaren-Mercedes, one lap; 7 M Salo (Fin) Tyrrell-Yamaha, two laps; 8 A Suzuki (Japan) Ligier-Mugen Honda, two laps; 9 A Montermini (It) Pacific-Lotus-Ford, six laps; 10 P P Diniz (Bra) Forti-Ford, seven laps.


1 Schumacher 14pts; 2 D Hill (GB) Williams-Renault 10; 3 Alesi 8; 4 Coulthard 6; 5 Berger 5; 6= Hkkinen and J Herbert (GB) Benetton-Renault 3; 8 H- H Frentzen (Ger) Sauber-Ford 2; 9 Blundell 1.


1 Ferrari 13pts; 2 Williams-Renault 10; 3 Benetton-Renault 7; 4 McLaren- Mercedes 4; 5 Sauber-Ford 2.