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Italy stunned by Ferrari disqualification

MARANELLO, Italy, Oct 17 - Ferarri fans were devastated by their team's disqualification from the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday but the mayor of Maranello acknowledged the team should be made to pay for its mistakes.
Thousands of Ferrari supporters had gathered in the team's home town in northern Italy at dawn to watch the race on television screens in cafes and supporters' clubs.Eddie Irvine's victory and Michael Schumacher's second place triggered a huge celebration.Fans decked their cars in the famous red and yellow flags of the world's most glamorous racing team and drove through the sleepy town waving banners and honking car horns.But in the late morning, after most fans had dispersed, news reached Maranello that the team had broken technical regulations and both drivers had been disqualified.``It's a cold shower we weren't expecting,'' said Alberto Beccari, president of the local Ferrari club.``The car was set up like that at the

Nurburgring (for the European Grand Prix last month) and there wasn't a problem. Why did this irregularity come out only after the race -- after a victory which we deserved? It's ruined the party.''The mayor of Maranello, Giancarlo Bertacchini, said he was stunned by a disqualification which hands the world drivers' title to Finn Mika Hakinnen pending an appeal by Ferrari.
``It's not good for motor racing to see the world championship end in this way,'' Bertacchini said.``If there was a mistake then it's only fair that someone should pay for it. There shouldn't be any more tolerance for Ferrari than for anyone else.''``How is it possible that Ferrari can have gone into the race knowing there was an irregularity?'' he asked.The race in Sepang had brought the town to a standstill in the early hours of Sunday morning.Parish priest Alberto Bernardoni, known locally as the Ferrari priest for his passionate support of the team, said only a handful of worshippers had turned up to morning mass. Most were glued to their television sets.Italian state broadcaster RAI opened its lunchtime news bulletin with reports from Sepang and dedicated the first six minutes of its programme to the controversy.Close ups and freeze frames of the offending reflector panels on the Ferrari F399 cars driven by Irvine and Schumacher were shown on news bulletins throughout the afternoon.