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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Benetton Team Facing Ouster

PARIS -- World championship leaders Benetton could face sanctions which might lead to them being thrown out of motor racing over the refuelling controversy during the German Grand Prix when one of their cars was engulfed in a fireball.

Francesco Longanesi, spokesman for the sport's ruling body FIA, stressed on Thursday that was the most extreme penalty facing Benetton when they appear before the sport's world council on October 19 in Paris.

"The world council will hear what they have to say and all we can say now is that they face sanctions ranging from a reprimand to their disqualification, which would mean their exclusion from all motor racing," Longanesi told Reuters.

Benetton, whose leading driver Michael Schumacher of Germany heads the drivers championship by a wide margin, have admitted removing a fuel filter at the German Grand Prix but denied it caused the pit-lane fireball and also said they had permission from FIA.

This was denied by Longanesi. "It had been made clear to the teams that for safety reasons the refuelling system should not be subjected to any changes," he said.

"Permission was certainly not given. Any query on technical regulations should be addressed to FIA in writing and we have not received a letter from Benetton on this matter."

FIA said earlier that the filter, designed to help eliminate the risk of a flash-fire during a refuelling stop, had been deliberately removed from the equipment used by Benetton.

Benetton on Wednesday replied in a statement that the filter had been removed with the full knowledge and permission of the FIA Formula One technical delegate.