Fisichella declared winner of Brazilian GPPosted: Friday April 11, 2003 6:52 AM
Updated: Friday April 11, 2003 9:51 AM
PARIS (AP) -- Five days late, Giancarlo Fisichella finally celebrated victory Friday in the crash-shortened Brazilian Grand Prix, after the FIA officially declared him the winner and bumped McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen into second place.
A jubilant Eddie Jordan, Fisichella's boss, announced the decision following a meeting of the governing body of motorsports, which goes by the French acronym FIA. FIA later confirmed the ruling in a statement.
"Right at this moment, any victory is a major result for us," said Jordan, who came out of the FIA's Paris headquarters with his fist clenched in victory.
"Giancarlo has won the race. It's a fantastic victory for him, his first ever Grand Prix, but we're all delighted," Jordan said.
Raikkonen had previously been crowned winner of the Brazilian Grand Prix, run Sunday in rain at Interlagos.
The decision to award Fisichella the race was the latest twist in a season that has seen Formula One turned on its head by a series of new rules that have, for the moment at least, loosened Ferrari's grip on the sport.
"I'm pleased that any confusion has now been cleared up," McLaren Chairman Ron Dennis said in a statement. "The evidence presented leaves no doubt that Giancarlo and Jordan are the winners."
Dennis added that it was "obviously a shame that neither team nor driver were able to celebrate in Brazil."
Fisichella's win also was a badly needed boost for the Jordan team, which has struggled to keep up in the high-cost, highly competitive world of F1.
Sunday's race was meant to last 71 laps but was stopped on what at first appeared to be the 55th lap, when Spanish driver Fernando Alonso crashed into wreckage left by Australian driver Mark Webber.
Jordan driver Fisichella was leading at that stage and thought he had won, tossing his helmet into air in delight when he climbed out of his car.
Officials, however, later declared Raikkonen the winner, saying he was leading two laps before the race was halted.
But after review, the FIA ruled Friday that Fisichella was on his 56th lap when the race was stopped, said Jordan. Under the countback rule, the driver who is leading two laps before the race is stopped is declared the winner.
That meant the winner was the one who was in front in the 54th lap: Fisichella.
"We were always aware that we were on lap 56 and that has been proved beyond doubt today," said Jordan.
"Initially, we thought that we'd won and then there were some misunderstandings. But now everything has been put to rights I'm overjoyed."
Fisichella said he was "very happy" at the win -- his first in 110 races.
"It was very difficult for me with the confusion after the race, and I am still disappointed that I didn't have my moment at the top of the podium," the 30-year-old Italian said in a statement.
The decision meant Raikkonen now has 24 points, instead of 26, but he still leads the overall standings. Fisichella has 10 points, moving into fifth place overall.
Raikkonen showed no bitterness regarding the decision.
"I would like to congratulate Giancarlo and Jordan on their victory," he said in a statement. "As I only claimed my maiden win a few weeks ago, I probably remember better than anyone how special it is."
The win was the Jordan team's fourth Grand Prix victory in 200 races and its first since 1999.
Speaking to reporters outside FIA headquarters, Jordan said he didn't want to get into a debate about why stewards took five days to declare Fisichella the winner, given the high-tech nature of F1.
"I don't want to get into the politics of that, that's for somebody else to do," he said. "Right now I just want to call Giancarlo and congratulate him because of this, which is something special."
But in a statement, Jordan said: "It's a shame that the results weren't accurately reported immediately as it would have been better if Giancarlo had been able to celebrate his first win in the normal fashion on the top step of the podium."