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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Turkish GP avoids Formula One axe
Mehmet Ali Talat (l) and Felipe Massa
Mehmet Ali Talat presents Felipe Massa with his winner's trophy
Turkey has escaped the chop from the Formula One calendar after allowing the leader of an unrecognised country to present the trophy at this year's race.

But race organisers have been fined 2.66m following the controversial incident in Istanbul on 27 August.

The FIA feared the decision to allow Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to hand the trophy to Felipe Massa had compromised its political neutrality.

But motorsport's governing body thought a fine was sufficient punishment.

Race organisers had said that the invitation to Talat was as "a dignitary of international status" and denied using the podium ceremony to gain political advantage.

But they were found "guilty on all counts" of breaking FIA statutes, the international sporting code and Formula One regulations.

The important thing for us is that races at Istanbul continue without interruption

Turkish delegation member Ilhan Parseker

The Turkish-controlled area of northern Cyprus is not recognised as a separate country by the United Nations.

Cyprus has been split since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the northern part of the Mediterranean island after a Greek-inspired coup.

The Greek-Cypriot controlled south is the internationally recognised government, representing the whole island in forums such as the European Union.

Ilhan Parseker, a member of the Turkish delegation at the FIA meeting in Paris, was relieved that the race was not removed from the calendar.

"The important thing for us is that races at Istanbul continue without interruption," he said.

"We greet the monetary penalty with respect."

The fine eclipses the 530,000 penalty handed out to then-champions Ferrari and drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello following the Austrian Grand Prix debacle of 2002.

Ferrari had instructed Barrichello to let world championship leader Schumacher overtake him in the final few yards to the win the race.

In 1997, the Spanish circuit of Jerez was barred from hosting Formula One races after the town's mayor disrupted a podium ceremony.



SEE ALSO
Cyprus slams Turkish F1 'trick'
28 Aug 06 |  Europe
San Marino race gets F1 lifeline
18 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Massa wins Turkish GP from Alonso
27 Aug 06 |  Formula One
Ferrari hit by $1m fine
26 Jun 02 |  Formula One


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