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MARCH 17, 2007

Melbourne - the latest legal action

The Spyker F1 team took the rather odd step of protesting only the Super Aguri team after qualifying on Saturday. It seems that the protest was designed to ascertain whether the FIA Stewards would be willing to make any decisions on the subject before things on to proper legal action. It is unlikely that the stewards would want to be involved in the argument although there is a rule in the FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations which states that "the constructor of an engine or rolling chassis is the person (including any corporate or unincorporated body) which owns the intellectual property rights to such engine or chassis". This does not say that two teams cannot own the same piece of intellectual property but it is clear, by definition, that two people cannot own the same thing.

The Formula 1 rules and regulations are, rather oddly, a part of the Concorde Agreement, the accord which regulates the way Formula 1 is run. In this agreement the FIA is charged with overseeing the policing of the sport but if there is a dispute between the parties involved it should be settled by arbitration. This is probably where the question will end up although there is talk of a decision by the FIA World Council. Spyker and any other teams that wish to be involved would be within their rights to ignore such a decision if they believe that it is not legally correct.

Attacking only Super Aguri is a way of getting a ruling without involving the main target which remains Red Bull. It is thought proving a case against Aguri would be very tough as it is difficult to prove that the chassis incorporates "any part designed or manufactured by any other constructor of F1 racing cars". Teams can use the drivetrain of another team but the chassis is supposed to be unique.

The protest is unlikely to have any effect on activity in Melbourne.