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AUGUST 31, 2006

Turkey up before the WMSC

The National Sporting Authority of Turkey (TOSFED) and the MSO, the organiser of the Turkish Grand Prix have been called to appear before a specially convened meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on September 19.

The World Council will consider charges that they acted in breach of the FIA Statutes, the International Sporting Code and the 2006 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations.

In other words, the FIA is going to throw thew book at the Turks.

According to our sources, the Turks will have to answer for various breaches in the rules, beginning with the very first Article of the FIA Statutes, which states that FIA members shall "refrain from manifesting racial, political or religious discrimination" in the course of their activities. In addition there is Article 151c of the FIA International Sporting Code which states that those involved in the sport should avoid "any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport


The non-adherence to the podium procedures is laid down in Appendix 3 of the F1 Sporting Regulations which state that "the winning driver's award will be presented by the head of state or the prime minister of the host country or the FIA President. If such a person is not available, a comparable person within the host country, or a dignitary of international status should be invited. Should neither of these be available, the President of the ASN will be invited to present the winner's trophy".

There is little doubt that the Turks are in trouble but the big question is just how much trouble they are in.

The FIA rules allow for a scale of different punishments, including Article 27.3 of the FIA Statutes that allows for a club to be expelled from the FIA if it has "seriously infringed the regulations of the FIA". Expulsion shall be pronounced by the General Assembly, on recommendation of the World Council.

The bottom line is that Turkey could lose not only its Grand Prix but also other events as well as its representatives have not only failed to respect the rules of the sport but have made matters worse by admitting in the media that they did so deliberately. It is hard to imagine that the FIA will look kindly upon this. There may be commercial matters involved but these are unlikely to get in the way as contracts almost always have clauses to cover this kind of situation and there will no doubt be financial penalty clauses as well, governed probably by British law. In the past Bernie Ecclestone has successfully taken legal action against organisers who failed to meet their commitments, notably when he won an $11m law suit at the High Court in London when a judge ruled that he was entitled to keep the money which had been guaranteed by a South Korean company for the right to hold a race on a track in Kunsan City in 1998.

There may also be implications for the World Touring car Championship, which is scheduled to hold a race in Turkey on September 24, five days after the hearing and the World Rally Championship which is due to visit Turkey on October 12-15. Promoters from both events may also be able to take legal action against the Turks if their events are cancelled.

If the worst comes to the worst and Turkey loses its Grand Prix, there is unlikely to be any trouble finding a replacement event. It is likely that the keenest people to secure a race will be the Greeks, who were planning for a race even long before the current controversy. Finding the money to hold a race is unlikely to be a problem in the circumstances.