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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 May 2005, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
BAR 'naive' over fuel rule breach

BBC Radio Five Live motor racing commentator Maurice Hamilton says officials were right to ban BAR for two races over the team's extra fuel controversy.

Jenson Button

"If BAR had been found guilty of deliberately cheating the team would definitely have been excluded from the entire 2005 World Championship. There have been precedents for that.

In 1984 the Tyrrell team, in a similar problem with the weight of their car, were thrown out of the entire championship and all their points scrapped.

And in rallying in 1996, the Toyota team were found to have made a deliberate attempt to by-pass a restrictor valve on a turbo charger and they were excluded from the championship.

What the appeal court's ruling said was that they could not prove there was a deliberate attempt to cheat - but neither did the team prove to the scrutineers and the FIA that the car remained above the 600kg weight limit through the entire race.

The key phrase in the FIA statement says:

'On the basis of the evidence provided by BAR-Honda it is not possible for the court to find the team deliberately committed fraud. But their actions at the time of the emptying procedure (when draining the car of fuel) did show a highly regrettable negligence and lack of transparency.'

It is important to note the entire BAR team are affected because the FIA found that the fuel set-up on Takuma Sato's car, the sister car to Jenson Button's, was exactly the same.

I think BAR would definitely have considered civil action if they had been excluded from the whole season - it would have been a massive issue as there are 600 employees, not to mention a budget of 100m and all the sponsors.

But in this case they may just have to swallow the penalty, bite the bullet and get on with it."


"At issue was the interpretation of what is a pretty grey area - and that was the state of a Formula One car when weighed.

Weight in F1 is absolutely everything because the lighter the car is, the faster it goes - so the governing body set a limit of 600kg below which a car is illegal.

But the question was, "How do you weigh it?"

The BAR interpretation was [it should be weighed] "under operating conditions".

They said in order to be "operating", it had to have a small amount of fuel on board in what they call the collector tank, otherwise the car simply wouldn't run.

The fuel system in F1 is very complicated - it has got a lot of working parts and lots of separate tanks to make the system work, to stop the fuel sloshing about, basically.

BAR say it was a fuel tank the scrutineers knew about and was not deliberately hidden.

But the governing body said "No, it should be absolutely empty."

When you are messing around with weight, which is so important in F1, you have to tread very carefully and I think BAR have been a touch naive."

Maurice Hamilton was talking to BBC Radio Five Live.

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