"The FIA has launched a full investigation into the podium presentation at the Turkish Grand Prix and is concerned that its political neutrality may have been compromised," said a spokesman for Formula One's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
While he did not spell out the consequences, the matter could potentially jeopardise the race's place in the 2007 championship despite being listed in a 17-race calendar published on Tuesday.
Sunday's presentation to Ferrari's Brazilian race winner Felipe Massa was by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
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He was introduced to millions of viewers around the world as the "President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" in a television caption.
Cyprus has been split since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the northern part of the Mediterranean island after a brief Greek-inspired coup.
The Greek-Cypriot controlled south is the internationally recognised government, representing the whole island in forums such as the European Union. Only Turkey recognises the north.
An FIA source said details of those handing out the awards had apparently been withheld until the last moment, leaving those responsible for the television captioning with little time to react.
"The government will protest these theatrics organised by Ankara, casting Talat as the leading actor," said Cypriot government spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis after the podium presentation.
"They deceived the FIA and tried to exploit for political purposes a purely sporting event, through provocative manoeuvres and absurd propaganda methods."
The FIA, which brings together 213 national motoring organisations from 125 countries on five continents, said in a statement that political neutrality was fundamental to its role as a governing body.
"No compromise or violation of this neutrality is acceptable," it added.
It said the results of the investigation would be presented to the FIA's World Motor Sport Council.
The governing body takes podium breaches very seriously.
In 1997 it banned the southern Spanish circuit of Jerez, which had hosted the European Grand Prix, from having any future races after the local mayor disrupted the prizegiving.
In 2002, Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher, team mate Rubens Barrichello and Ferrari were fined $1 million for their actions on the Austrian Grand Prix podium.
Schumacher had switched places with Barrichello on the top step after the Brazilian had been ordered to let the German win despite leading the entire race.
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