BAR still hopes to race at Barcelona

Updated: May 5, 2005, 5:53 PM ET
Reuters

BARCELONA, Spain -- BAR consulted its lawyers on Thursday to find a way to compete in Sunday's Spanish Formula One Grand Prix despite being banned from the next two races.

Team boss Nick Fry said in a statement that Honda-powered BAR was "appalled" by the punishment meted out on Thursday, the harshest imposed on a team in 20 years, and was considering its options.

"Obviously we want to race this weekend," he said.

Fry slammed the ruling by the International Automobile Federation's (FIA) appeal court in Paris as "wholly and grossly disproportionate."

While the court failed to find evidence that BAR had cheated, the team was accused of breaching the technical regulations and showing "regrettable negligence and lack of transparency."

The FIA had accused the team of cheating and sought its exclusion from the championship after allegations that it ran light at Imola and had a concealed secondary fuel tank.

The ruling stripped Britain's Jenson Button of third place at the San Marino Grand Prix and Japan's Takuma Sato of fifth place, sidelining both until the European Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring on May 29.

It meant that BAR, championship runners-up last year to Ferrari with Button racking up 10 podium finishes, will arrive at the seventh race of the season with no points.

BAR also has a suspended six-month ban hanging over its heads for the next year.

Fry said the legal team, including prominent British barrister David Pannick, was investigating the possibility of obtaining an injunction to allow the team to race.

"We need to get some papers together today...I think if there is to be a hearing in court, it will take place tomorrow," he told Reuters.

"Our plan at the moment is to stay here.

"It's all in the hands of the legal experts, we've got the best people available working on this and they need to advise me," he added.

Fry said the appeal court hearing had disregarded the evidence presented to it. He said the FIA had inspected the fuel system in both Malaysia and Bahrain without question.

"The team proved that it complied with the current regulations and the FIA now acknowledges that the regulations are unclear," Fry said in a statement.

"We repeat that at no time did BAR Honda run underweight at the San Marino Grand Prix and this was also unchallenged by the FIA," he added.

Sunday's race, and Monaco after it, were both ones that BAR could have hoped to win. Button holds the Circuit de Catalunya lap record and was second in Monaco last year.

"I have spoken obviously to both Jenson and Takuma, they are both fully aware of the situation," said Fry. "They want to get racing and we came here to see if we could win the race so it is especially disappointing for both of them.

"The next two races are critical for us and given our performance in the last race and in practice, these are both races that we can win. To miss them would be incredibly disappointing for the team."

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