Tuesday April 4th, 2000
By Christophe Michel
David Coulthard has lost an appeal against his disqualification from second place at the Brazilian Grand Prix because his McLaren broke technical regulations.
Motor racing's ruling body FIA said on Tuesday its appeal body "decided to confirm the stewards' decision pronouncing the exclusion of car number two (Coulthard's) from the classification of the 2000 Brazilian Grand Prix".
The decision completes a disastrous start to the season for McLaren who have yet to score a point in two races. World champion Mika Hakkinen has been forced out of both races with mechanical problems.
Coulthard was disqualified by stewards at Interlagos nine days ago, after the Briton finished behind Michael Schumacher's Ferrari, because his McLaren failed to conform with regulations relating to front-wing end planes.
"Obviously today's result isn't what I had hoped for," Coulthard said. "It's (the San Marino Grand Prix at) Imola this weekend and I'm looking forward to getting into the rhythm at one of my favourite tracks and that is what I'm now concentrating on."
McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh said: "Naturally we are disappointed with the final outcome of this appeal but we will not allow this to obscure our focus on the world championship and the start of the European season at the San Marino Grand Prix."
In a statement the FIA said Monday's meeting of its appeal body had decided the distance between the planes exceeded the tolerance allowed under FIA regulations, and it was up to the teams to ensure their cars conformed.
McLaren had argued the infringement was caused by the bumpy track at Interlagos but the FIA said this argument was "unfounded".
" ... all the competitors - including the appellant - had been subjected to the rigours of the circuit in question from the first practice session onwards, and ... all steps could thus have been taken to make the necessary adjustments to the cars to allow them to cope with these difficulties," it said.
Coulthard's failure to keep his six points for second place means fellow Briton Jenson Button has become the youngest driver to score a point in formula one. Button, in a Williams, was promoted to sixth after Coulthard's disqualification.
After Monday's appeal hearing Scot Coulthard had been optimistic that he would be reinstated.
"Obviously, I can't go into details but we just put forward the case that led to the car not being within the regulations at the end of the race, when quite clearly it started the race within the regulations, and the unusual circumstances with the very bumpy nature of that track," he said.
The five-strong appeal panel was headed by Belgian Philippe Roberti de Winghe.
Double world champion Schumacher leads the drivers' world championship with 20 points from the first two races after also winning the Australian Grand Prix.