Thursday March 8th, 2001
Frenchman Olivier Panis has hit out at the Australian Grand Prix officials following the penalty which dropped him from fourth to seventh place in last Sunday's race.
The BAR driver, who was making his return to Formula One racing after a year as test driver for the McLaren team, finished the season-opening race in fourth spot, but he was later given a 25-second penalty for overtaking under yellow flags, following a complaint from the Sauber team.
Panis said the stewards' decision was totally wrong.
"What makes me furious is that I was found guilty without any evidence," said Panis. "There was no report from the track marshals and it was all based on accusations made by Nick Heidfeld. It was his word against mine and they said he was right.
"I actually overtook him on the other side of the track, not where there were yellow flags. At that point there were no cars stopped on the track and I didnít see any flags.
"I donít see how Nick could have seen them, because when I passed him he even shut the door on me and made contact."