BAR skating on thin ice

BRITISH AMERICAN RACING continues to threaten legal action against the FIA over the new regulation which means that the team cannot run two different color schemes on its cars next season. At the Japanese GP team boss Craig╩Pollock told reporters that: "the governing body has to realize that it has made a mistake. I bought a team for $30m and I don't want my commercial rights restricted. A rule change is not on."

"If it means going to court," said Pollock, "then it is regrettable but I will do everything I can to protect the investment I have made." While one can understand his point of view, the comments are not likely to be well received by the FIA and with BAR yet to have its entry accepted in the 1999 World Championship this is dangerous talk.

According to the published regulations in order to get an entry a new team must include in its application a written confirmation that it has read and understood the rules and that it agrees to abide by them. One of the hundreds of rules which BAR must accept is Article 58 of the FIA International Sporting Code which states that all entrants shall "undertake to submit themselves without reserve to the decisions of the sporting authority and to the consequences resulting therefrom".

Threatening legal action against the FIA just days before the deadline for entries - November 15 - is likely to be interpreted by the governing body as a sign that the new team is not willing to accept the rules and Pollock's remarks could be turned against him to refuse the team an entry in the World Championship. This may sound like a radical move but it would not be first time that the governing body has taken on a team which does not like the rules.

It should be remembered - and there are people at BAR who were with McLaren at the time - that the FIA returned McLaren's entry and refused Ayrton Senna's application for a superlicence in 1990. At the time McLaren was the Constructors'╩Champion but it had supported its driver Ayrton Senna when he claimed that FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre had manipulated the 1989 Drivers' World Championship in favor of Frenchman Alain Prost. Both the team and Senna had to back down in order to be allowed to compete in 1990.

While the team's legal advisers may think that the ban on dual liveries is a restriction of trade, the FIA has argued in the past that the rejection of an entry to the F1 World Championship is no such thing, as a racing team can compete in CART or Formula 3000 if it does not like the rules in F1.

The governing body has never backed down to overt threats of legal action in the past and is unlikely to do so on this occasion.

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