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Sunday, October 17, 1999 Published at 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK

McLaren happy to accept title

Crew members attend to the offending Ferrari in the team paddock

McLaren team bosses have insisted they would be happy to accept Mika Hakkinen's second successive Formula One title after the upheaval at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Mercedes Motorsport director Norbert Haug talks to Jonathan Legard
Hakkinen could only finish third at Sepang, but he was named as "provisional champion" after Ferrari pair Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher were disqualified.

However McLaren said the controversy would not detract from Hakkinen's achievement.

"It is an FIA decision, but there is a chance Mika could be world champion and that is certainly good news," said Norbert Haug, director of Mercedes Motorsport, McLaren's chief sponsor.

Asked if the decision had left a sour taste with the team he added: "It can't do, because it's not our decision.

"Rules are rules and we did not influence anything on it. Motor racing is like that - we've also had bad races and bad luck."

Ferrari stand firm

Jean Todt, Ferrari's team manager, announced that they had launched an immediate appeal against the disqualification.

[ image: Mika Hakkinen, wife Erja and Norbert Haug celebrate the news]
Mika Hakkinen, wife Erja and Norbert Haug celebrate the news
"The car was in exactly the same technical shape as it was in the last Grand Prix in Nurburgring, Germany," Todt said.

"And this car has been scrutinized every day here."

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn insisted that the deflector panels at the centre of the row had not given the team an unfair advantage.

"The parts were used at Nurburgring. We are sure there was no performance benefit," he said.

Brawn added that both drivers had been shocked by the ruling. "They are very upset, naturally."

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1999 Championship standings

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