OCTOBER 27, 2001

Procedural failings by USGP stewards give Trulli back 4th place

THE FIA's International Court of Appeal has upheld the Jordan-Honda team's appeal against Jarno Trulli's exclusion from fourth place in the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis, a move which confirms the Irish team's fifth place in the Constructors' World Championship.

The last time the FIA's Court of Appeal contradicted the race stewards' decision on a disqualification was at the 1999 Malaysian GP where Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher had their Ferraris reinstated in first and second places. That was on an interpretative dimensional issue, however, wheras today's ruling is unusual in that the FIA has acknowledged that its own procedures were at fault.

The court never got as far as debating the issue of the non-comformity of Trulli's Jordan EJ-11 which had initially been excluded because of excessive wear to its skid block, something which may have been caused by broken fasteners resulting from an early collision with one of the Saubers.

It was a decision which will have done much to dispel criticism from some quarters over recent years that the FIA Court of Appeal is lacking in independence and demonstrates too much partiality. On this occasion it has moved promptly to demonstrate that the governing body must abide by its own laid-down operational procedures at the individual races.

The official FIA communique read; "Having listened to the explanations of the parties and examined the various documents and other evidence, the International Court of Appeal has allowed the appeal of Jordan Grand Prix on the grounds that a steward was absent during the hearing of the team at the United States Grand Prix.

"The Court found that this was a breach of Article 134 of the International Sporting Code (which provides that all decisions by the College of Stewards should be taken collectively) and this a breach of the right of defence. The International Court of Appeal has therefore pronounced the above mentioned stewards' decision null and void; the original classification of the event is, as a consequent, confirmed.

The FIA race stewards concerned at Indianapolis were Paul Gutjahr, Roger Peart and Steve Earle. It is believed that Peart was absent from the decision making process when Jordan MD Trevor Foster was summoned to appear after the race, although he was not formally named in the Court's adjudication.