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Irvine favourite to win F1 title

LONDON, Oct 23 ( - A London bookmakers made Eddie Irvine 8/15 favourite to win the Formula One title on Saturday, leaving one British woman on course for a 50,000 pound ($83,390) payout. Bookmakers William Hill said the woman had placed her first ever bet of 10,000 pounds ($16,680) on the Ferrari driver at odds of 4/1 before last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix. McLaren's Finnish driver Mika Hakkinen, who provisionally claimed the title on Sunday after Irvine won the race in Malaysia only for his Ferrari to fail a technical inspection, was given odds of 11/8. Irvine was reinstated on Saturday as race winner in Malaysia after an appeal hearing in Paris. The Northern Irishman leads Hakkinen by four points with just the Japanese Grand Prix remaining on October 31. 
McLaren not surprised by Ferrari ruling

LONDON, Oct 23  - McLaren boss Ron Dennis said he was neither surprised nor ``hugely upset'' after rivals Ferrari and Eddie Irvine returned to the top of the Formula One standings at his team's expense on Saturday. Dennis also said the International Automobile Federation (FIA) had, in upholding Ferrari's appeal against disqualification from the Malaysian Grand Prix, cast doubt on the competence of their own equipment and officials. ``Are we disappointed? No. Are we surprised? Not really,'' he told a news conference at his team's Woking headquarters in southern England. ``We think the push now for our sport has inevitably become quite commercial, everybody wants to have an exciting race in Japan but I think that the price we paid for that one race is too great.'' McLaren made clear in a later statement that they had hoped for a different outcome: ``In this case, we felt, along with many motor sport experts, that there was no room for interpretation,'' it said. 

The outcome of the FIA appeal hearing in Paris reopened title races otherwise claimed by McLaren and their Finnish driver Mika Hakkinen for a second successive season. There is one round remaining, in Japan on October 31 and Eddie Irvine, who led a Ferrari one-two finish in Malaysia, now leads the standings by four points. His team are also four points ahead in the constructors' standings. ``A way has been found, and if we were in a similar situation we would be looking for similar ways, to provide a reason for the appeal to be upheld,'' said Dennis. ``We're not hugely upset about the decision.'' 

``Obviously there's been a reassessment of the measuring process``A piece of equipment that's cost many millions of dollars not only to have made but also to move around the world, which has been used in the verify the legality of a car has suddenly been brought into question as has the competence of the FIA's own people,'' he added. Ferrari were excluded from the Malaysian Grand Prix after the barge boards -- fitted to improve air flow and stability -- were found to be one centimetre too short when the cars were inspected after the race won by Irvine.

However FIA president Max Mosley said Ferrari had proved the offending boards were within a five millimetre tolerance allowed by regulations, although that could not be confirmed at the time of the race. ``Nobody in Malaysia had equipment sufficiently accurate to prove what the court saw here in Paris yesterday,'' Mosley said. ``Ferrari accepted the measurements as they were presented in Malaysia as they could not prove there that the turning vane was not illegal.'' The FIA said in a later statement that ``the 10 millimetre dimension referred to in the technical delegate's report (in Malaysia) resulted from a method of measurement which was not necessarily in strict conformity with the regulations. 
``The measuring equipment available to the FIA scrutineers at the Malaysian Grand Prix was not sufficiently accurate to call into question Ferrari's statement that the turning vane was indeed properly attached to the car.'' 
Dennis said that the logical conclusion was that ``the FIA individuals who were part of this process have not demonstrated competence, that the equipment that they have used for several years and that was updated two years ago is suddenly brought into question on accuracy.'' This, he implied, was unlikely. ``It may interest some people to know that this piece of equipment is actually set up using lasers,'' he said. ``So I think even the most untechnical person can appreciate that if you are using lasers to establish the accuracy of a piece of equipment then it falls well within the capability of that equipment to measure within a millimetre.'' Dennis said he was convinced that Ferrari had made a mistake but accused them of being ``slightly hypocritical to say that there is no performance influence because effectively it is a very aerodynamically critical area on the car.''