The FIA has accused BAR-Honda of fraudulent conduct in its bid to deceive race stewards, even though the sport’s ruling body had been aware of the team’s “secret” fuel tank since March.
In its testimony before the International Court of Appeal in Paris, the FIA has accused BAR-Honda of fraudulent conduct in its bid to deceive race stewards, even though the sport’s ruling body had been aware of the team’s “secret” fuel tank since March.
The FIA said that in designing a fuel system to deceive scrutineers into thinking it had been drained of fuel, BAR-Honda was “guilty of fraudulent conduct.”
However, the FIA’s technical specialist, Jo Bauer, admitted that the agency had known about the fuel tank at the time of the Malaysian Grand Prix in March following a routine inspection.
“We did a general inspection of all fuel cells of all the teams,” Bauer said while giving evidence, “following a request made in the Technical Working Group to check that the right material was used. We also checked the extremities of the fuel cell and the regulation concerning the size of the fuel cell. We thought that if we had to drain fuel, we would have a closer look to see if there was fuel in it or not.”
This was not pursued until after the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, where members of the BAR team are accused of having falsely stated that Jenson Button’s car had been completely drained of fuel. The “secret” tank and its contents were discovered shortly thereafter.
BAR continues to deny its guilt and has urged the FIA for clarification of the rules to avoid a similar situation in the future. In court, the defence suggested that should it be found guilty, a “modest” fine rather than expulsion from the championship would be sufficient.
Before the start of the season, FIA president Max Mosley had warned that any team caught cheating would be excluded from the championship.