Goodbye Gorgeous George

THE well-known British lawyer "Gorgeous" George Carman has died at the age of 71. Carman played a small but significant role in the history of Formula 1 racing when he defended Benetton Formula in September 1994 against charges that the team had tampered with the refuelling equipment at Hockenheim. The team had admitted that it had illegally removed a filter from the machine but argued that it had been done by a junior member of the team without consulting senior management.

The FIA accepted the arguments and created a storm of outrage from rival teams.

Carman's presence in the case was important because he was best known as a libel lawyer and his involvement in the case seems to have been interpreted by the FIA as a signal that there would be libel action from the massive Benetton group if the team was found guilty of the charges.

What followed was a compromise solution with the team escaping public punishment but being forced to make what were called "substantial management changes" to ensure that there was no repeat of the incident. This translated into the departure from the team of Tom Walkinshaw, who was sent to France to run the Ligier team, which was owned by Benetton team manager Flavio Briatore.

Carman failed to get Benetton driver Michael Schumacher reinstated in the results of the Belgian GP at the same hearing but he had made his mark on the sport. The decision meant that Schumacher was able to fight for the 1994 World Championship, which he won by punting Damon Hill out of the Australian Grand Prix.

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