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Monday, October 18, 1999 Published at 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK

Date set for Ferrari appeal

Judges from world motor sport's court of appeal will meet on Friday to decide on the fate of Formula One championship contender Eddie Irvine and his Ferrari team-mate Michael Schumacher.

Jonathan Legard: "The Italian press has called the action 'outrageous'"
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) court will meet in Paris to rule on an appeal from the Ferrari team following both drivers' disqualification from the Malaysian Grand Prix over an illegal deflector panel.

The decision to hold the panel this week means the issue will be settled before the final race of the season, in Japan on October 31.

FIA spokesman Francisco Longanesi said: "They will listen to the parties and then they will take a decision."

[ image: Eddie Irvine: From glory to ignominy within hours]
Eddie Irvine: From glory to ignominy within hours
FIA's Paris-based appeals court is made up of 15 judges from around the world, and at least three are needed to hear a case.

Longanesi said the process of establishing which judges were available had started.

Irvine won Sunday's race, with his teammate Michael Schumacher in second place. The win kept alive his hopes of taking the title at the last Grand Prix of the season, in Japan next Sunday.

But organisers later disqualified both Ferrari drivers, promoting Finn Mika Hakkinen to first place and giving him an unassailable lead in the overall standings.

Ferrari said its appeal would be based on the grounds that the problems with the bodywork did not give drivers and advantage, and that the same deflector panel had been used at previous races without being ruled illegal.

Punishment too harsh

Ferrari chief Jean Todt returned to Italy on Monday accepting the blame, but insisting that race officials were wrong to disqualify his team.

"I have a great pain in my heart, but also the desire to react," Todt said.

[ image: Mike Hakkinen: The provisional driver's champion]
Mike Hakkinen: The provisional driver's champion
"That small difference in design does not justify the decision to disqualify the two cars. The punishment is disproportionate.

"We must build up a very clear and precise dossier. I feel responsible (for what happened) because I am the director of sporting management.

"I'm the chief and therefore I'm always going to be the one responsible, but clearly this is a technical problem.

"We still don't know why the part didn't conform, but anyway it didn't give us any advantage from the performance point of view.

"There are no words to describe the sudden transition from great joy to profound disappointment. This is a tremendously difficult time for us, it all seems incredible."

Todt said the deflectors had been used at the Nurburgring for the European Grand Prix.

"And they were subjected to technical tests here in Malaysia last Thursday and were checked every day. We have 10 of them in total and we honestly can't understand what has happened," he said.

"It's a very bitter blow to us and one we really didn't expect after such a great race, which had given us fantastic results. I repeat, we were disqualified for a problem which gave us no performance advantage."

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