Missing seal fiasco was FIA's fault, claims Haug

Mercedes boss Norbert Haug has criticised the FIA's decision to hit McLaren with a fine and a points ban after the Austrian Grand Prix, suggesting that the technical infringement on Mika Hakkinen's car may have been the fault of the governing body itself.

Missing seal fiasco was FIA's fault, claims Haug

Hakkinen's victory was thrown into doubt after it emerged that one of the seals on his McLaren's electronic control unit was missing. Although he was allowed to keep the victory, the team was hit with a £33,000 fine and lost the ten constructors' points Hakkinen had scored for them, dropping the team back behind Ferrari in the standings.

However, Haug said Mercedes believed the controversial missing seal may never have been put on Hakkinen's car. Speaking at the German Grand Prix, he revealed it was not just broken but missing entirely when officials carried out post-race checks after at Zeltweg. Haug said the team had argued at the FIA hearing on Tuesday that it may never have been there in the first place. It is the responsibility of the FIA itself to put the seals on the cars.

"The seal was missing. We think it was never there," said Haug. "The FIA says the electronics inside have been approved and are fully legal. The FIA has to put that seal on the ECU and it was missing."

The seal was one of two used to prevent teams boosting performance by tampering with the electronic control unit's complex programming which makes up the car's 'brain'.

He admitted that he was not planning to take the matter any further.

"I want to leave that behind us because it does not give is the ten points back. It's a tough verdict but I personally do not understand it," he added.

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