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Saturday, October 23, 1999 Published at 04:53 GMT 05:53 UK

Irvine awaits appeal decision

Irvine finished first in Malaysia

Britain's Eddie Irvine is waiting to find out if he still has a chance of winning the Formula One motor racing world championship.

Five judges are due to announce a decision on Ferrari's appeal against its disqualification from the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The BBC's Neil Bennett: "If the rules are strictly applied Ferrari will have no chance"
The team are attempting to overturn the result of last Sunday's race in Sepang, which awarded first place - and an unassailable lead in the drivers' championship - to McLaren rival Mika Hakkinen.

Irvine and team-mate Michael Schumacher - who finished first and second respectively - were disqualified after a post-race car inspection uncovered a discrepancy over the size of aerodynamic aids.

[ image: Eddie Irvine joins the Ferrari delegation for the hearing]
Eddie Irvine joins the Ferrari delegation for the hearing
The hearing in Paris is being held by the sport's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA). It opened on Friday and is due to conclude at 1000 BST on Saturday.

The FIA insists that the five members of the International Court of Appeal - whose identities have been kept secret - are impartial, but knowledgeable about the sport.

"The FIA would like to stress that these judges will not be influenced by any outside opinion, irrespective of the person who expresses it," the ruling body said in a statement.

"They will decide the case solely on the basis of the evidence and arguments put forward during the hearing."

The reassurance follows the comments of FIA vice president Bernie Ecclestone that the disqualification was "nonsense".

BBC News Online's Talking Point reflects a generally-held view that the powerful Ecclestone has the television audience he sells the sport to on his side.

Almost two-thirds of contributors disagree with the disqualification, and while Ecclestone may not be at the hearing, many will ask whether his view and the sport's wider image can really be put aside.

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