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Appeals and more appeals

THE Belgian Grand Prix weekend was marred by a couple of controversial incidents - all of them involving Mika Hakkinen. The Finn was found to have been using fuel which did not match that which had been supplied to the FIA in June and as a result Mika's fifth place in the grid was canceled and he was put at the back of the grid.

McLaren announced that it would appeal the decision, arguing that the test had been incorrect and that new tests would prove that the fuel was legal. This is a dangerous step as the FIA International Court of Appeal has the power to increase punishments if it considers that an appeal is frivolous and does not bring to light any new issues.

In the race Hakkinen ran into trouble for overtaking cars under the Safety Car. The stewards of the meeting decided that while Hakkinen had been guilty of the offense he did not deserve to be excluded from the results and was given a reprimand and a one-race ban suspended for two races. Williams which stands to gain third place for Heinz-Harald Frentzen if Hakkinen is excluded from the results, appealed the stewards decision, arguing that the rule state that the offense should result in a stop-go time penalty which Hakkinen was not given.

The International Court of Appeal will be convened as soon as possible but until them the result of the Belgian GP remains somewhat in doubt.

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