Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report
The Full Court of Appeal's Decision Against McLaren

Tuesday April 4th, 2000

The International Court of Appeal met in Paris on 3 April 2000 in order to examine the appeal brought by the Royal Automobile Club Motor Sports Association - MSA (Great Britain) on behalf of the team West McLaren Mercedes against the decision of the Stewards of the Meeting of the 2000 Brazilian Grand Prix (document N 33) to exclude car n2 (David Coulthard) from the classification for non-conformity with articles 3.7, 3.12.1 and 3.12.6 of the FIA 2000 Formula One Technical Regulations.

The Royal Automobile Club Motor Sports Association - MSA (Great Britain) was represented by Mr Terry Lankshear, Secretary General.

The West McLaren Mercedes team was represented by Mr Martin Whitmarsh, Managing Director, and Mr Timothy Murnane, Head of Legal Affairs.

The driver David Coulthard was also heard, as were Mr Charlie Whiting, the Manager of the Formula One Technical Department, and Mr Jo Bauer, the FIA Technical Delegate.

Having listened to the explanations of the parties and examined the various documents, the International Court of Appeal decided that it was established:

  • that the distance between the reference plane and the step plane on car n 2 was only 43 mm instead of 50 mm (Article 3.12.1 of the Formula One Technical Regulations), whereas a tolerance of only 5 mm is authorised (Article 3.12.6); therefore, the car examined was not in conformity with the prescriptions referred to above, the measurements having been carried out in the proper fashion and in the presence of both parties, as confirmed both by the appellant and in the statements made by the parties during the hearing;

  • that the tolerance authorised by Article 3.12.6 is as follows: "To help overcome any possible manufacturing problems, a tolerance of 5 mm is permissible across these surfaces," and is thus a manufacturing tolerance;

  • that even if one takes up the appellant's explanations regarding his interpretation of the tolerance, the litigious height was 2 mm less than the height provided for in Articles 3.7 and 3.12.1 of the Formula One Technical Regulations;

  • that it is the duty of each competitor to prove that his car complies with the regulations in their entirety at all times during an event (Article 2.7 of the Formula One Technical Regulations and Article 7 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations);

  • that the appellant's argument concerning the layout and profile of the circuit is unfounded since all the competitors including the appellant had been subjected to the rigours of the circuit in question from the first practice session onwards, and that all steps could thus have been taken to make the necessary adjustments to the cars to allow them to cope with these difficulties, as the imposed height between the two planes had not been contested for the other competitors whose cars were checked.

    The International Court of Appeal therefore decided to confirm the Stewards' decision (document n 33) pronouncing the exclusion of car n 2 (David Coulthard) from the classification of the 2000 Brazilian Grand Prix.

    The International Court of Appeal was presided over by Mr Philippe Roberti de Winghe (Belgium) and was composed of Mr H.L. Duijm (Netherlands), Mr Jos? Macedo e Cunha (Portugal), Mr Reginald Redmond (Ireland) and Mr Pedro Romero (Spain).

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