Switzerland's Sauber-Petronas racing team is under investigation after the British American Racing (BAR) team appealed against the Swiss team's fourth place at the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix.This content was published on May 13, 2001 - 22:27
The BAR team accuses Sauber-Petronas's pilot, the Finn Kimi Raikkonen, of overtaking illegally under a yellow flag warning.
Stewards at the ring interrogated Raikkonen, and viewed video evidence provided by the BAR team. They concluded that because the marshals had not reported anything, no incident had taken place.
However, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said the BAR team had appealed against the stewards' decision to reject their complaint. The FIA said Sunday's results, with the exception of the top three finishers, would remain unofficial pending a formal hearing in the coming week.
If Raikkonen were to be excluded, BAR's French driver, Olivier Panis, would be lifted from fifth to fourth place, just behind Brazil's Rubens Barrichello.
In Sunday's race, Raikkonen's Sauber team mate, Germany's Nick Heidfeld, could only manage a ninth place finish after a delayed start when he was left behind on the grid.
But there was no stopping Raikkonen who had been sounding an optimistic note ever since the warm-up races on Friday.
"The Austrian circuit is new to me, but I think I have proved so far this year that learning new tracks is not a problem," he said, "and I'm looking forward to being able to push hard for more points."
The push began from the moment the flag went down at the start of the race. By lap 14, Raikkonen had already moved into sixth place, just behind Britain's David Coulthard, who eventually went on to win the race.
Coulthard's victory gave him his second Grand Prix of the season and the eleventh Formula One win of his career.
Michael Schumacher was lucky to come in second place, after his Ferrari nearly spun off the track on the 54th lap. He regained control of his vehicle but lost valuable seconds which prevented him from closing the gap in the remaining 17 laps.
Schumacher retains his lead at the top of the drivers' championship standings, but Coulthard has now narrowed the gap to just four points. Heidfeld lies fifth on eight points, while Raikkonen has moved up to eleventh place with four points.
After the race, Raikonnen was quick to praise the overall team performance in Austria: "People are making a lot of fuss becasue I have the same points now as Mika Hakkinen, but what matters to me is that as a team we had another great result today."
Ferrari still lead the constructors' standings on 60 points, while Sauber are in fifth place on 12, just one point behind the Jordan team.
While Sauber-Petronas were toasting their own success, McLaren were already beginning an inquest into the disastrous performance of Mika Hakkinen's vehicle, which stalled on the start grid.
His McLaren had to be pushed clear and despite an attempt to re-enter the race, Hakkinen was forced into the pits and out of the race.
swissinfo with agencies
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