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Hakkinen champion after Ferrari thrown out

SEPANG, Malaysia, Oct 17  - Mika Hakkinen sensationally won the Formula One world title for a second time on Sunday 

 by the narrowest of margins-- one centimetre.The Finn was declared champion after Ferrari pair Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher staged a one-two finish in the Malaysian Grand Prix only to be disqualified hours later after their cars were adjudged to have broken the rules.McLaren driver Hakkinen had finished third in the penultimate round of the series but was elevated to first when a post-race technical check led to the ejection of the Ferraris.Part of the barge boards on the side of both Ferraris behind the front wheels -- fitted to improve air-flow and stability -- were deemed just one centimetre too short and contravened regulations.Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn, joy turned to despair, said: ``I would just emphasise that there is no performance gain but there has been some mistake. ``For reasons we have still got to establish there is a piece missing of about 10mm.''The Italian team have appealed against the race stewards' decision to disqualify them.The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) will now come under pressure to ensure the hearing takes place before the final race of the season in Japan on October 31.If Ferrari's appeal is rejected Hakkinen stays champion. Should the plea be upheld then Irvine will regain his 10 race-winning points and head for Suzuka with a four-point advantage over his Finnish rival.Ferrari's dejected 
McLaren Mercedes' Mika Hakkinen flashes a smile as he walks out of a pit at Sepang circuit following his unexpected victory of the Malaysian Grand Prix

sporting director Jean Todt said after the latest chapter in a season of misfortune: I spoke to Eddie before the decision had been taken. He knew about the problem but does not know the outcome.When you hear something like this after such a drive then obviously it is a big disappointment.We have made an appeal to the FIA but I do not know when that appeal will be heard.
Todt also said that his cars had been scrutineered throughout the weekend and had been in the same condition throughout.
The controversy overshadowed an imperious return by twice champion Schumacher, who broke his leg at the British Grand Prix in July. He dominated both qualifying and the race with incredible control and speed.Before Malaysia, the German had even ruled himself out for the rest of the season, saying he was not fully fit.He left Hakkinen almost crying with frustration at the finish of what he termed the toughest race of his life. The Finn claimed Schumacher held him up for lap after lap.I was always having to be careful because he would brake in a surprising place and I did not want to run into the back of him, said Hakkinen.I knew I could go a couple of seconds a lap faster but I could not risk trying to overtake him.But they (Ferrari) did a great job, played some brilliant tactics and won the race.Schumacher said: My job was to make sure Eddie had a good gap so I drove a little slower.The disqualification shattered Irvine's hopes of a first world title in a season that saw him start as Schumacher's number two before bursting into contention in his own right.The Briton, who joins Jaguar next season, drove a measured race and was poised to become Ferrari's first champion since Jody Scheckter in 1979.Brawn had hailed the team's performance, before the bombshell of disqualification as ``as good as it gets.''Schumacher started from the 22nd pole position of his career and twice allowed Irvine past and into the lead. The German came home just one second behind his team mate.