A1 Team Germany has hit back at stewards at the South African round of the series in Durban, aggrieved at what it saw as inconsistent treatment of offenders in a crash-strewn weekend.

Michael Ammermuller was disqualified from the sprint race - his fourth such reprimand of the year - after being found guilty of causing a collision with Jeroen Bleekemolen's Team Netherlands entry, but what angered the Germans more was what it saw as the numerous accidents and incidents - in which Ammermuller was among the victims - which went unpunished in the subsequent feature race.

"As a team that has been contesting the series ever since its inaugural season, we have been supporting the fantastic idea and concept of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport since 2005," seat holder Willi Weber commented, "Up to now, A1GP has been consistently moving forwards. In the meantime, however, I've become more sceptical.

"The city street race in Durban last Sunday saw an unusually high number of controversial incidents on the track. The stewards took the time to carefully analyse the events after the race [and] that's why we chose not to pass any final judgment in our initial comment on Sunday. But the further analyses and evaluation of the race by the stewards is scandalous."

Weber's frustration didn't stop there, however, as he went on to details several of the incidents he felt should have been dealt with more harshly, including that which took Ammermuller out of the afternoon event.

Holding an early seventh place, the German car became a victim of the first restart following an accident between the Chinese and Portuguese teams on the first lap. When the safety car withdrew, however, Team Australia's John Martin pushed Ammermuller into spin, before colliding with the Irish car. Unable to avoid the melee, Indonesia's Satrio Hermanto then rammed Ammermuller, having himself been hit by Pakistan's Adam Khan.

"I deeply regret that the many fans at the venue were deprived of a consistent, flowing race as no less than four safety car phases interrupted the main race for a long period of time," Weber said, "Outright scandalous, however, is the fact that there were extreme differences in the penalties imposed for the very serious incidents that occurred.

"Our car, for example, was turned around on lap four of the main race. Another driver was unable to avoid our car, hit us, and that was the end of our race. Before that, we had been disqualified from the sprint race. We have no knowledge of the driver who ended our race having received any significant penalty, and there are further examples.

"On lap 39, a young driver, after making a mistake in a blind area, performed an extremely risky manoeuvre, which provoked an accident. This ruined the race of the Brit Oliver Jarvis. Prior to this incident, we had been accused of having caused an 'avoidable' accident. So what about this crash, hadn't this one been avoidable as well?"

As well as being unable to score points in the feature race, however, Weber was angered by the decision to throw Ammermuller out of the results of the sprint, but allow local driver Adrian Zaugg to keep his position having caused the accident that triggered a red flag to end the longer race.

"On lap 42, Jeroen Bleekemolen was turned around again, but his opponent in the accident was not disqualified," Weber pointed out, "Instead, the race was stopped and the previous lap classified.

"Originally, this was done in the sprint race as well - the old status quo in the points standings was restored again, and nobody suffered any disadvantage. But then we were disqualified and the old status quo was no longer valid. In the main race, the order in the standings before the accident was restored when the race was stopped. However, there were no penalties imposed against anyone who had caused an accident.

"Quite to the contrary, Adrian Zaugg received only a minor penalty that does not even affect the points score. I am not the only one who cannot help getting the impression that the decisions involve a double standard. The reactions by German media are interesting, to put it mildly."

Ammermuller insisted that, despite his previous record of incidents since being taken into the A1GP fold, his accident with Bleekemolen should have been considered a racing accident.

"We presented our data logging to the stewards and analysed the video data three times," the former GP2 race winner explained, "The data indicated that I hadn't braked any later than normal. Jeroen left the door open, I took the chance and then we collided when he cut across my line. He escaped without a penalty and we were disqualified."

Weber, however, admitted that the weekend had probably cost Germany any chance of retaining the title it won so impressively with Nico Hulkenberg in 2006-07 and hinted that he was not about to let the matter rest.

"We were forced to swallow several bitter pills during the weekend, and return from South Africa without a single point, losing touch in the table as a result," he fumed.

"It is not understandable why the penalties imposed differ so greatly, considering the seriousness of the incidents. It cannot be in the best interest of sport that sporting penalties are primarily characterised by unpredictability. That this happened in the midst of a title fight is particularly unfortunate. It is a mystery to me how something like this is possible.

"Before our team will take any further steps, I will try to discuss the issue with the people in charge. But one thing is certain: I expect to receive clear answers, and I will not let up on this."

 

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