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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ferrari Suffers Double Failure in British Prix

SILVERSTONE, England -- Italy's standing in Formula One motor racing suffered a double blow during and after Sunday's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.


Both the Ferrari cars retired inside six laps, their third successive double failure, and rivals Benetton, an Italian team with an English base, failed in its protest against the victorious Williams driven by Canada's Jacques Villeneuve.


Benetton also caused confusion after the race by indicating verbally that it intended to lodge an appeal against the stewards' decision to reject its earlier protest, but failed to lodge it in writing.


In circumstances which revived memories of the "black flag fiasco" at the 1994 British Grand Prix when Michael Schumacher of Germany, driving a Benetton, was disqualified, the team sent its press officer to the media center to inform reporters that they would be appealing.


But a spokesman for the sport's ruling body, the International Motoring Federation, or FIA, said it had not received any notification of appeal.


The Benetton protest had been against the legality of the front wing end plate of Villeneuve's car.


In its report on the protest, FIA said the "wing end plates protested against are legal and have been from the outset," adding the same plates had been on the car all season.


The row overshadowed Villeneuve's victory which cut Hill's lead in the world drivers' championship from 25 points to 15 and also helped camouflage Ferrari's failure.


The Italian press on Monday slammed Ferrari's performance as shameful and embarrassing.


"Poor Ferrari, red only from shame," Rome newspaper Il Messaggero said in a front page headline. Ferrari motor racing is famous for its distinctive red cars.


"This mythical car, which has made motor racing history, seems to have become a circus car, exploding in the hands of clowns," Italy's largest selling sports daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport, said.


"Every time Ferrari goes up in smoke, every banal error that leaves you speechless, means that a piece of Italy, which we were once proud of, dies," it added.


La Stampa newspaper, owned by the wealthy Agnelli family which controls Ferrari, also criticized Italy's premier racing team. It quoted Schumacher as saying Ferrari would be ready to mount a major challenge to the world championship next year.


"The trouble for Ferrari is that the public is fed up with waiting. The last world championship of Jody Scheckter in 1979 is a fading memory," it said.


Double world champion Schumacher, who joined Ferrari last winter from Benetton, could hardly believe he had been forced out of the race so early again -- for the third successive time -- with a jammed gearbox.


Teammate Eddie Irvine retired on lap six with a broken differential bearing. "This is absurd," Irvine said after the race. "But in racing things like this can happen even if it seems very strange."