Prodrive face further delay over entry

Prodrive are to face a further wait on a ruling about the legality of their entry to Formula One next year, can reveal, as the FIA postpones this month's court of appeal hearing, and rivals Williams vow to take the matter to the civil courts

The FIA is to postpone this month's planned International Court of Appeal (ICA) hearing into Prodrive's 2008 entry for unspecified reasons, while in a separate development it has emerged that Williams are refusing to accept the court's jurisdiction.

Prodrive had hoped that the ICA hearing scheduled for October 24 would clear up the legality of their entry.

The court had been convened following threats from Williams to take legal action against Prodrive and F1 bosses if the team pressed ahead with plans to run customer McLaren cars next year.

But Prodrive's hopes that a positive outcome would remove the threat of legal action over their 2008 entry were dashed last week when Williams made it clear that they were not interested in the ICA hearing and only wanted to sort the matter out in civil courts.

Sources told that Williams notified the FIA that they would not be held to account by the ICA's verdict. The team also made it clear they would not even be attending the hearing as an interested party, even though it was their action that caused the matter to go to court in the first place.

Although the reasons for Williams' stance have not been specified, it is understood the team feel that the matter of customer cars does not fall under the FIA's sporting jurisdiction. They feel the area is governed by the Concorde Agreement and not F1's Regulations.

This means the team would still have taken the matter to the civil courts, most likely through arbitration, even if the FIA confirmed in the hearing that Prodrive are allowed to contest next season with customer cars.

An FIA spokesman confirmed to that the hearing was now set to be delayed.

"We understand from the Secretariat of the Court of Appeal that there is to be a postponement of the scheduled hearing," said the spokesman.

He also expressed some surprise at Williams' stance: "As regards the comments from Williams, they are of course within their rights to take this matter to the civil courts, but under the circumstances, as far as they have been presented to us, the FIA does not understand on what basis they would choose to do so."

Williams' views that the legality of customer cars are not governed by the sporting regulations does not appear to be shared by the FIA, with president Max Mosley having previously made clear that he believed the 2008 F1 rules do explicitly allow them. By signing up to the 2008 championship, Williams have had to accept the regulations.

Mosley told earlier this year that he believed Article 19 and 20 of the 2008 Sporting Regulations set out the differences between constructors' and customer teams.

"At the moment the rules for 2008 completely allow them," Mosley told about customer cars. "They (the regulations) make a distinction between the constructor and the make - and of course the points go to the make and not the constructor. Very few people have looked at the rules yet, but they will."

Article 20 of the Sporting Regulations states: "The constructor of an engine or rolling chassis is the person (including any corporate or unincorporated body) which owns the intellectual property rights to such engine or chassis.

"The make of an engine or chassis is the name attributed to it by its constructor. If the make of the chassis is not the same as that of the engine, the title will be awarded to the former which shall always precede the latter in the name of the car."

The current row over customer cars would be swiftly settled by teams agreeing a new Concorde Agreement, which is set to define the use and financial position of customer car teams.

Talks on this matter have been ongoing for several months and may not be resolved until the eve of the season, however.

Prodrive are hoping to resume talks with McLaren about running customer cars next year once the courts have given them the all-clear, although it is understood to now be too late for them to race with the same machinery as the factory team in 2008.

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