Mosley: BAR Started 2005 under Suspicion

Formula One's governing body suspected before the start of the season that BAR were breaking the rules, FIA head Max Mosley said on Friday

Mosley: BAR Started 2005 under Suspicion

"Everybody who was really in the know in Formula One strongly suspected something was going on," the FIA president told a news conference at the Spanish Grand Prix.

He rejected speculation, however, that the FIA had been approached by anyone seeking a $1 million bounty offered to 'whistleblowers' coming forward with proof of cheating.

"What actually happened was that there was a general rumour in Formula One that this was going on. And whether it was or not I don't know," Mosley said.

"I personally heard about this during the winter from someone who doesn't work in Formula One but works at top level motor racing more in connection with the United States. That's how far the rumour had spread."

BAR, owned by Honda and British American Tobacco, have been banned from Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix and Monaco on May 22 for running a car at the San Marino Grand Prix that was underweight when fully drained of fuel.

The team were accused of cheating by the FIA at a midweek appeal court hearing in Paris, with the governing body requesting that they be kicked out of the Championship and fined a million euros.

The court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support the accusation of deliberate fraud but said BAR had showed "at the least a highly regrettable negligence and lack of transparency."

Basic Error

BAR finished second last year behind Ferrari, prompting rivals to question this week whether their car was legal during that Championship.

Mosley said 2004 was a closed book as far as the FIA was concerned and doubted whether either British driver Jenson Button or Japan's Takuma Sato were in the know about the controversial fuel system.

Asked why Button's car was drained of fuel at Imola and not Michael Schumacher's Ferrari or Fernando Alonso's Renault, he replied: "Because we had good reason to believe there was something wrong with the BAR. We had no reason to believe the other cars were doing this.

"You've got to be crazy to do this. People don't do that sort of thing in Formula One any more. Probably we should check more because if it really was happening last season, which was the rumour in the paddock, we should have found it.

"It's the sort of thing people do in a club race or low grade racing. It's crude, it's primitive, it's not sophisticated electronics or the sort of things we deal with.

"So there's not the slightest reason to believe that Renault or Ferrari or any of the other teams would do it."

BAR have denied wrongdoing and attacked the suspension as 'wholly and grossly disproportionate.'

The team had threatened to take the matter to the civil courts in order to race under appeal in Spain and Monaco but they gave up that avenue on Friday, citing problems with jurisdiction.

Mosley said their case would have collapsed anyway.

"If you want in my view the truth about why they are not prepared to go to a civil court, it is that they know if they go to a civil court the whole thing would be out in the open and it would collapse in tatters," he said.

"We would have somebody cross-examining their witnesses and it would be somewhere between an embarrassment and a disaster. So that's why they won't do it."

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