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Fisichella declared winner

Paris: Formula One’s governing body overturned the result of Sunday’s chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday and awarded a first career victory to Jordan’s Italian driver Giancarlo Fisichella.

McLaren’s championship leader Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, declared the winner at Interlagos, was demoted to second place after a meeting of race stewards at International Automobile Federation (FIA) headquarters.

“I am delighted for Giancarlo, the team, Ford and all our sponsors,” said team boss Eddie Jordan.

“Sunday’s race was absolutely thrilling and I am very grateful to the FIA for examining the results in such detail and acknowledging that the victory is Giancarlo’s.”

The decision resulted from a timing discrepancy, unprecedented in Formula

One history, after evidence came to light that race leader Fisichella had started one lap more than the 55 announced on Sunday.

The 71-lap Brazilian Grand Prix was stopped after two crashes left the track strewn with wreckage. Under a countback system, the winner was declared to be the driver leading two laps before the halt.

Fisichella, whose car caught fire after the race was stopped, had overtaken Raikkonen on lap 54.

The victory was Fisichella’s first in 110 starts and Jordan’s first since Germany’s Heinz-Harald Frentzen claimed the 1999 Italian Grand Prix.

The last Italian driver to win a Grand Prix was Riccardo Patrese for Williams in Japan in 1992.

The changed result, taking two points from Raikkonen and McLaren, will benefit the 23-year-old Finn’s British team mate David Coulthard and Ferrari’s five-times world champion Michael Schumacher.

Raikkonen, who took the first win of his 36-race career in Malaysia, is now nine points ahead of Coulthard and 16 clear of Schumacher.

Coulthard remained fourth. Schumacher crashed out at Interlagos and has yet to finish a race on the podium this season after winning 11 times in 2002.

Meanwhile, Fisichella said justice had been done after he was awarded the title.

“I am very happy that the FIA and everybody recognises that I won the Brazilian Grand Prix,” he said in a team statement.

“I already thought that this was the case and the team believed it straight away and then in recent days when the evidence was examined, we knew it was true and hoped it would become official,” said Fisichella.

“It was very difficult for me with the confusion after the race and I’m still disappointed that I didn’t have my moment at the top of the podium,” he added.

“But I am pleased that it is clear now that I have won my first Grand Prix...I’m looking forward to more podiums and wins in the future.”

The Jordan driver is looking forward to starting his next race — the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola on April 20 — as a winner.

“Now I can’t wait for the next Grand Prix because it will be fantastic to be in Italy, racing in front of fans at home.

“The atmosphere at Imola is always great and it’s a few years since an Italian driver has won a Grand Prix so it’s going to be even better this time. I’m proud to be starting my home Grand Prix as a race winner.”

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