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Here comes the judgement

ON Saturday at Lausanne, in Switzerland, lawyers representing British American Racing and the international automobile federation, the FIA, met to put forward their cases to commercial judges of the International Chamber of Commerce in an effort to resolve the dispute over whether or not BAR should be allowed to run cars in different color schemes.

The judgement - which, according to the Concorde Agreement, will be binding on both parties - is not expected for some days as the judges consider their decision. There is no doubt that the new Sporting Regulations ban twin liveries. Article 62 of the recently-published 1999 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations states that: "both cars entered by a competitor must be presented in substantially the same livery at each event, any change to this livery may only be made with the agreement of the Formula 1 Commission".

In entering the World Championship a team undertakes to accept the regulations and Article 58 of the International Sporting Code alludes to possible commercial problems as team have to agree to submit themselves "without reserve" to the decisions of the FIA and "to the consequences resulting therefrom".

If BAR wins the case it will open the floodgates for other F1 teams to run cars in different color schemes. It will also mark a major political defeat for the FIA and for its Vice-President (Promotional Affairs) Bernie Ecclestone. If the FIA wins the case BAR will have to decided whether to run its cars in 555 or Lucky Strike colors. This may result in problems as the different parts of the program were to have been funded by different BAR subsidiaries. The need to restructure the team's funding may result in political battles within the marketing men at BAT.

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