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Monday, March 9, 1998 Published at 18:31 GMT

Sport: Formula 1

Complaint over Hakkinen victory rejected
image: [ David Coulthard, right, pulls over to allow his team mate Mika Hakkinen to pass him ]
David Coulthard, right, pulls over to allow his team mate Mika Hakkinen to pass him

The governing body of Formula One motor racing, the FIA, has rejected a protest over the pre-arranged finish at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Race organisers complained after David Coulthard, who was leading the race, pulled over to allow his team-mate to claim victory.

Ron Walker, the chairman of the Australia Grand Prix Corporation sent an official complaint to the FIA questioning whether agreements between drivers amounted to a fair sporting contest.

There has been widespread criticism of the arrangement between the McLaren team drivers that whichever of them reached the opening bend first would be allowed to win the race if other factors permitted.

Mika Hakkinen was quickest away at the start, but Coulthard went ahead during the race, before slowing down with two laps to go, to let the Finn past.

The FIA issued a statement, saying team instructions specifying the finishing order of drivers had existed in motor sport since the beginning of the century, and therefore it would be wrong to criticise or punish the McLaren team.

The FIA added that the World Motor Council would be invited to decide at its meeting on March 18 whether the practise should now cease.


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