DISAPPOINTED ITALIAN FANS LEFT TO WONDER WHY
Ferrari's home town of Maranello in Italy was enveloped in gloomy silence yesterday as celebrations fizzled out following the double disqualification.
The day had started out with church bells ringing, car horns blaring and the streets full of people celebrating after Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher completed a dream 1-2 finish at Sepang.
Hundreds of fans and civic officials had followed the race on a maxi-screen in the town's auditorium but many more were celebrating afterwards, waving Ferrari flags.
But the disqualification handed out later by race officials cut everybody to the quick, dispelling the euphoria.
Alberto Beccari, head of the Ferrari supporters club, said: 'We didn't expect this, it's like a cold shower.' As for the cars, he said: 'They were the same at the Nurburgring, and there weren't any problems there. And why did this supposed irregularity come out only after the race, after a deserved victory?' Parish priest Don Alberto Bernardoni Don Bernardini, who had rung the church bells in victory and described Ferrari's team spirit as one of the greatest sporting moments of the century, was distraught.
'I'm disappointed,' he said. 'There's little else to be said.' There was bitter disappointment too for Mayor Giancarlo Bertacchini.
The Mayor lamented: 'Seeing the world championship finish this way isn't good for motor racing. If a mistake has been made, then it has to be paid for and you can't have any special allowances being made for Ferrari.
'But is it possible that Ferrari started the race knowing full well that their cars didn't conform to the rules?' he wondered aloud. 'The cars had already been checked and everything was okay.'