Toyota Hope for Small or No Sanction

Toyota motorsport president John Howett is confident the Japanese team will only receive a small sanction after it emerged on Friday that the team have competed for years without the correct paperwork

Toyota Hope for Small or No Sanction

"The matter is under investigation," said an FIA spokesman. He would not speculate on what action might be taken.

A report in F1 Racing magazine suggested a worst-case scenario of the team being stripped of their points for the first four races of the season, including their first podium finishes.

However, Howett hoped that would not be the case for what he described as a simple administrative error that had now been corrected.

"If they apply a sanction we have to accept it," he told Reuters. "The FIA has the right to apply sanctions but I hope it will be commensurate with the size of the error. We have tried to be completely transparent.

"This has been blown out of proportion to what we see as an unintentional and fairly minor error relating to the paperwork."

Teams must have a competition licence issued by their national authority before they can get a Superlicence, which is issued by the FIA.

Howett said Toyota, currently second in the Championship behind pace-setters Renault, had always had a Superlicence but had failed to renew their competition licence since 2000.

"Genuine Error"

Toyota, with one of the biggest budgets in the sport, made their Grand Prix debut in 2002 after deferring their entry for a year.

The matter came to light only when Toyota sought to appeal against a 25-second penalty for a pitstop offence that pushed German driver Ralf Schumacher out of the points at the San Marino Grand Prix.

Protests have to be made through the national motor sport authority, in Toyota's case Germany's DMSB, and they had not made one until last month when they discovered they did not have the necessary licence.

"We haven't had a national licence, we can't deny that," said Howett. "It was a genuine error.

"We do apologise and feel extremely embarrassed but we understand the FIA are treating the matter sensibly," he added.

Howett said the paperwork had been put in order before the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend.

Toyota are enjoying their best season in Formula One. Italian Jarno Trulli has finished three races on the podium, taking Toyota's first top three position in Malaysia in March when he came second.

Trulli was also second in Bahrain and third in Spain.

Howett rejected any comparison to the recent case involving BAR, suspended for two races by the FIA for a breach of the weight and fuel regulations at the same Imola race.

He said Toyota had brought the licence problem to the attention of the world body as soon as they were aware of it.

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