Bernie Ecclestone worried FIA will give title to Lewis Hamilton

Bernie Ecclestone, Indianapolis, 2007 | GEPA / Franz PammerOn the day before the FIA Court of Appeal meets in London to hear McLaren’s protest against the result of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Bernie Ecclestone has threatened to quit if Lewis Hamilton is handed the title:

I don?t think that the Formula One fans would like a championship to be won because the temperature of the fuel, which can?t be measured anyway, is possibly 5C out. If anybody thinks that?s the best thing for Formula 1, then I?d have a very serious thought about me retiring.

This lends weight to the suspicion that the outcome of the hearing is a foregone conclusion, and that McLaren has no chance of succeeding.

Although Ecclestone, as the head of Formula One Management, is not responsible for making the decision, his opinion will be considered highly influential. When the FIA found McLaren guilty of using Ferrari’s intellectual property it was the intervention of Ecclestone and other parties that ensured Hamilton and Fernando Alonso remained in the drivers’ championship.

Nonetheless, the fact that Ecclestone has chosen to voice the threat might suggest he is genuinely concerned the FIA might disqualify the BMWs and Williams cars from the Brazilian Grand Prix, elevating Hamilton to fifth place or higher, and giving him the points he needs to become champion.

Speaking to The Times, the newspaper he usually chooses to voice his opinions, Ecclestone said:

I don?t think anything?s going to happen if it goes through. In my opinion, they don?t have to change the results of the race ?ǣ it?s an infringement of the regulations. On the same weekend, McLaren used an extra set of tyres, which they shouldn?t have used ?ǣ that was an infringement – so maybe if anything does happen at this Court of Appeal, maybe they?ll treat it exactly the same as the tyres.

The venue of the hearing was switched to London instead of Paris due to an ongoing traffic strike in the French capital.

Read more about the Brazilian Grand Prix fuel controversy

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37 comments on Bernie Ecclestone worried FIA will give title to Lewis Hamilton

  1. to number 38 – hope it’s a properly cooled pint – not luke warm as some of the fia descisions this year – personaly I think they dont know whether they want to play good cop or bad cop – makes you as dizzy as a good few pints

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th November 2007, 12:47

    In the hearing today McLaren’s lawyer has argued Lewis Hamilton should be given the title:

    The principle is clear. If there was a breach, it was performance-enhancing. The sanction, I’m afraid, has to be disqualification.

    I ask you to address this as though it was any team at any stage of the season. Whenever in the past there has been a disqualification, there has been a re-classification. All we ask you to do is what normally happens.

    The driver may be entirely innocent… but he has the benefit of the infringing car. It must be right that if the team is disqualified, the driver loses the points as well. In the other case, the drivers were offered immunity if they assisted the FIA.

    The court is yet to rule on whether the appeal is admissible.

  3. Journeyer said on 15th November 2007, 13:42

    Where are you getting this info, Keith? I wanna see it too. :)

  4. Journeyer said on 15th November 2007, 13:48

    It seems to be on all the news sites, but where are they getting the info from?

    I don’t like the approach McLaren’s lawyers took on this one. It’s making the team look inconsistent and flip-flopping on its statement that they’re just asking for a clarification.

    The lawyer said that the judges should forget about the big picture and act on this issue as if it were any regular issue (without the Title in the balance). Do you agree with this viewpoint? Or does the big picture (with its special Title repercussions) still have to be considered in this case?

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th November 2007, 13:59

    My spies are everywhere… Sorry, here’s the piece:

    Reuters – McLaren lawyer seeks title for Hamilton (external)

    Regarding McLaren’s approach, it seems like the way you would present a case like this. You’ve got to aim for the best result possible and use every argument you can otherwise there’s no point in appealing.

    Plus there’s a PR battle to be fought. If this gets thrown out on a technicality the journalists who write it up will have the words of the McLaren lawyer ringing in their ears, and may present the outcome as being that the governing body had to choose between giving Hamilton the title or opting for a technical fudge.

  6. roooster said on 15th November 2007, 14:32

    Mclaren lying again…recently didnt they say they just want rules clarification. Does’nt look like it now.

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th November 2007, 14:47

    Martin Whitmarsh had said this:

    ‘Victory’, for us, would be a clarification of the rationale behind the FIA Stewards’ decision at the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix – a clarification, indeed, that we regard as essential not only for us but for all our competitors, to enable all teams to race in compliance with the regulation regarding fuel temperatures throughout the 2008 Formula One season.

    That was in an Autosport story titled “McLaren just want rules clarification” (external link).

    But Whitmarsh also said:

    We ourselves lost a constructors’ championship at the International Court of Appeal in 1999 when it was, in effect, retrospectively awarded to Ferrari when the ruling of the stewards that their bargeboards were illegal was overturned.

    And I don’t think anyone seriously believes they’ve brought this appeal not thinking they might get a championship out of it.

  8. Number 38 said on 15th November 2007, 15:18

    “And I don’t think anyone seriously believes they’ve brought this appeal not thinking they might get a championship out of it.” (Keith)

    Mclaren aren’t going to get a championship out of this, Ron’s doing this for his boy wonder!

  9. In saying this: “The driver may be entirely innocent… but he has the benefit of the infringing car. It must be right that if the team is disqualified, the driver loses the points as well.”

    By the same logic, shouldn’t that mean Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso be striped of their 109 points this season? I’m not trying to instigate another McLaren are cheats flame, but seeing as they were found guilty, then I don’t think the lawyer should be using words as such.

  10. Sorry, only just read the follow up part about immunity…! my bad.

  11. Number 38 said on 15th November 2007, 15:23

    Maybe a little agrivation and annoyance to MadMax also! What has McLaren got to loose? I think the disappointment here is most of us thought Ron Dennis was above this sort of foolishness.
    It appears we were wrong!

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th November 2007, 16:05

    Ferrari are also at the appeal and their lawyer Nigel Tozzi said this:

    “It would be a serious injustice to Mr Raikkonen were the championship to be taken away from him

    It would be highly damaging for the sport if the title were to won this way with the fans probably feeling it was more about grubby manoeuvring by the lawyers than by skill behind the wheel.

    As McLaren have always said, the championship should be decided on the racetrack and not in the courtroom.

    Tozzi called McLaren, “shameless hypocrites devoid of any integrity”.

    No word on Williams or BMW’s defence yet but BMW’s lawyer Ian Meakin described the appeal as “naked opportunism”.

  13. Journeyer said on 15th November 2007, 16:18

    If McLaren were really gunning for the title, why did they say they just wanted a clarification? If that were the case, they were better off keeping their mouths shut.

    It’s just irritating. I don’t blame them going after the title; what I don’t like is that they’re saying one thing and doing something else. Asking for a clarification is not equal to asking for a disqualification.

  14. Journeyer said on 15th November 2007, 16:20

    Whoops, just saw your post, Keith. Naked opportunism – well put! This transcript should make for good bedtime reading – just like the Spygate transcripts!

  15. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th November 2007, 16:21

    True but I think Ferrari are no better than McLaren. Ferrari may say it would be bad for F1 if the championship changed hands in the courtroom, but arguably they won the ’99 and ’07 constructors’ championships that way and they didn’t complain then.

    They’re both equally competitive teams and they’ll win by any means necessary.

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