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Fisichella may be given title

London: Italian Giancarlo Fisichella could be declared the winner of Sunday’s chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix instead of Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen, motor racing’s governing body said Wednesday.

The international automobile federation (FIA) said it was reviewing the result after a timing discrepancy came to light. A final decision will be made Friday.

McLaren’s Raikkonen was awarded the win, his second in a row, after the race was stopped on what appeared to be the 55th lap following Spaniard Fernando Alonso’s huge crash.

Fisichella, who has yet to win a Grand Prix in 110 starts, was leading at that stage in his Jordan. It was the team’s 200th race and they celebrated wildly in the immediate post-race confusion before the official result was announced.

Under a countback procedure Raikkonen was declared the winner because he had been in front two laps before the Interlagos race was halted.

The win was the 23-year-old championship leader’s second in a row, after his maiden victory in Malaysia, and gave Mercedes-powered McLaren their third win in three races.

The FIA said it now appeared that Fisichella, who led from the 54th lap, had in fact started his 56th lap when the race was stopped. “The FIA has received evidence which suggests that, contrary to the information supplied by the timekeepers at the Brazilian Grand Prix, car number 11 (Fisichella) had started his 56th lap before the race was stopped,” said the FIA.

“If this proves to be the case, the race classification would be at the end of the 54th lap and not at the end of the 53rd lap as published.” The race was due to run for 71 laps.

Formula One race winners have been demoted in the past for a variety of reasons, such as failing post-race scrutineering, but such an announcement so long after a race is extraordinary.

The FIA said the Brazilian Grand Prix stewards would reconvene in Paris Friday to review the results and all competitors affected by the result were invited to attend.

“Jordan Grand Prix has received the FIA statement concerning the result of the Brazilian Grand Prix, which concurs with the team’s evidence,” said a Jordan statement. “The team awaits the outcome of the stewards’ meeting on Friday.”

A McLaren spokesperson said: “If the timekeepers are proven to have made a mistake, then any subsequent adjustment of the race result would be understandable.”

TAG Heuer are the official Formula One timekeepers. They have also been sponsors of McLaren since 1985. The race at Interlagos started late behind the safety car after heavy rain and was punctuated by crashes, the worst of which put Alonso in hospital.

Any revision of the result will be a boost for Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher, who crashed out at Interlagos. “In terms of the championship it would have been better for us if Fisichella had won this race, especially as Giancarlo drove a good race anyway,” the German said afterwards.

The number of laps completed was also of crucial importance for the scoring, with full points awarded only if 75 percent of a race has been run — in this case 54 laps of 71. (Reuters)

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