Williams question legality of Prodrive's F1 entry

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Shanghai, Oct 5: Williams have questioned the legality of Prodrive's planned entry to Formula One next year and the matter has been referred to the sport's international court of appeal, the governing FIA said today.

The International Automobile Federation said in a statement at the Chinese Grand Prix that the hearing would be held in London on October 24, after the season-ending race in Brazil. A ruling was expected on October 25.

British-based Prodrive, run by former Benetton and BAR team boss David Richards, are due to become Formula One's 12th and final team on the starting grid next season using cars built by Mercedes-powered McLaren.

The Formula One rules are due to be changed to allow for so-called 'customer cars', which are illegal at present, but the existing teams have yet to agree a new commercial agreement governing the sport after 2007.

Prodrive's plans remain on hold until an agreement is reached on what revenues customer teams will be entitled to and the definition of a constructor.

''We are supportive of this programme conditional on them being able to make themselves comfortable about their eligibility in 2008 using effectively identical cars,'' McLaren boss Ron Dennis said in Fuji last weekend when asked about his team's negotiations with Prodrive.

''If this is a possibility for 2008 then there is a detailed commercial agreement between the companies involved and it's there to be go or no go.

''This is quite a big project and well-financed but the ball is certainly not in our court at the moment,'' said Dennis.

The FIA statement said the matter had been referred to the court of appeal by president Max Mosley following receipt of a letter from Williams.

The governing body also said an appeal by the Italian motor racing authorities on behalf of Toro Rosso against a stewards' decision that cost them their first point of the season in Japan last weekend would be heard on October 12 in Paris.

Reuters>

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