McLaren’s appeal verdict due on Friday

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica, Interlagos, 2007 | Andrew Ferraro / LAT PhotographicThe decision on McLaren’s appeal against the results of the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix – that could hand the championship from Kimi Raikkonen to Lewis Hamilton – has been postponed until tomorrow.

Martin Whitmarsh said of the court hearings:

At today’s hearing all parties had the opportunity to present evidence and make arguments based on their respective perception of the facts. It now lies with the FIA International Court of Appeal to deliberate and issue a decision.

As I made clear prior to the appeal, the team was seeking to clarify the regulatory uncertainty that has arisen from a decision of the FIA Stewards at the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix and not to win the Driver’s World Championship.

Our lawyer’s argument that an appropriate penalty would be a disqualification of the cars is based on the fact that this is ordinarily what has occurred during the last 20 years in Formula One when there was a breach of a technical regulation during a race.

Consequently whilst this was the only appropriate argument from a legal point of view, it’s not our ultimate goal in respect of today’s hearing.

McLaren’s lawyer Ian Mill began the hearing by arguing that Hamilton should be awarded the title:

We offer no special plea on behalf of the team, but I ask you to do what normally happens. It’s clear the infringement of this rule did have a performance-enhancing effect.

If you put in cool fuel it increases the horse power.

The principle is clear: if there was a performance enhancement, there was a breach and there has to be a disqualification. I ask you to address this as though it was any team at any stage of the season.

It cannot make a difference it was the last race of the season, and that it will decide the championship. Invariably, whenever there has been a disqualification, there has been a reclassification.

He added:

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.

Ferrari’s lawyer Nigel Tozzi attacked McLaren’s appeal:

This is not the way a Formula One world championship should be won. Mr [Lewis] Hamilton himself, potentially the only beneficiary, has said very clearly he does not want to win the championship this way.

Mr Norbert Haug, head of Mercedes motorsport, has again gone on the record and said McLaren are not appealing in order to claim the championship. Mr Martin Whitmarsh in an interview yesterday said ‘finding a way to award the world drivers’ championship to Lewis retrospectively, is not at all what this is about’.

It could be said McLaren are shameless hypocrites devoid of any integrity, or maybe what their representatives have said should be taken at face value.

If what they want is clarity, then by all means let them have that, but do not allow them to have the world championship this way.

It would be a serious injustice to Mr Raikkonen should the world title be taken away from him, a fact recognised by Mr Hamilton and Mr [Fernando] Alonso. As McLaren are fond of saying: ‘The championship should be decided on the track and not in the courtroom’

BMW’s lawyer Ian Meakin described the appeal as “naked opportunism”.

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41 comments on “McLaren’s appeal verdict due on Friday”

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  1. Well – I never imagined that I would see the day when monolinguism was an advantage. Apparently I just have…

    Returning to the point that several people have been making about McLaren using the wrong method if their intention is simply clarification. The problem is that those methods have already been tried. This rule is not new. There have been, by the sound of it, informal clarifications aplenty before now – hence why McLaren had enough information to be able to get this appeal opened in the first place.

    By putting the whole thing through a court case, something may get written down which will allow everyone to sing from the same hymn sheet. The other methods haven’t worked in this regard, which is why McLaren are having to use the same route to clarify a rule as they would take to make Hamilton champion. This simply illustrates why the practise of sending innumerable “clarifications” is no longer an option for F1 – if even the powers-that-be cannot figure out how to interpret them, they become documents of confusion instead.

    I don’t agree with the McLaren lawyer’s reading of precedent, but that’s a separate issue relating to the usual penalty for fuel irregularities (and would open another can of worms). The facts suggest that a procedural error has occured. Whether this error leads to the BMW and Williams cars being made illegal, or indeed whether anyone is promoted, is another question entirely.

  2. They expected the verdict on Thursday. It’s now 2pm GMT on Friday.

    Are they thinking the unthinkable?

  3. It is very interesting..

    Even if FIA says no change in championship winner, you cannot attribute that to the “clever” argument of Ferrari’s lawyers. Here’s why.

    Ferrari argues that Hamilton himself said that he did not want to win the title this way. So, the decision of FIA will be interpreted: We, in normal circumstances, would have given the title to him under the regulation, however since he did not want it, we will let Kimi take it. How sad will that be?

  4. I think they’re just taking a long time to find a way to disqualify the BMW’s/Williams (which they probably have to or risk setting some sort of precedent of teams all running extremely cool fuel), but not give Hamilton the title, deserved or not.

    Either that or the lawyers are being extremely verbose.

  5. Or they are just trying to make it look like they really thought about it. In any case, it is interesting that they take this long to make it public…

  6. One website is ‘unofficially’ reporting that the appeal has been rejected:

    Pitpass: Court of Appeal rejects McLaren claim (external)

  7. And boy, there is a lot of Internet traffic going in Pitpass’ direction right now. :)

    Anyway, I’m inclined to believe this. As far as I can recall, they have been right on the mark when it comes to using insider sources in news.

  8. Prehaps they’re trying to find a way to not only disqualify Williams & BMW, but Hamilton too. That way Alonso is champ…….

  9. Good news, cause in my book that makes Mclarens the biggest losers of 2007 in more ways than 1!

  10. OR, did they initially throw the case out, but when Bernie said he’d quit if the case was upheld they suddenly thought they’d found a way to get rid of the little nit…

  11. Hey, Keith, what has been the most commented topic for this year on your lovely site?

    Need I ask?

  12. Pretty much unsurprising, although what a range of opinions, hopefully hot topic next year will be great races filled with lots of talking points.
    No politics, no spying and no FIA Appeals of any kind.
    Does the FIA gather the teams at the start of the year and clarify the rule book, the way they used to hold driver breifings before each race?

  13. So, are they going to announce the verdict at 11.59 PM? I would like to see them locked up in room and discussing, otherwise, why are they delaying the press release?

  14. Still nothing… how very odd.

    It’s tempting to speculate the delay is because they’ve concluded they ought to disqualify BMW/Williams and are now desperately trying to find a way of doing it without handing Hamilton the title.

    Either that, or Ron Dennis is holding someone’s head down the toilet until the verdict goes his way.

    One thing I do agree with McLaren on, though – this OUGHT to be decided without reference to what’s at stake in the WDC. They ought to decide in exactly the way they would have had this appeal followed the first race of the season.

  15. Is this some sort of publicity stunt? How long can it be dragged out? Surely this whole thing is not as cut and dried as Max and Bernie would have said.

  16. Maybe they’re hoping everyone would just forget about it.

    I know I would.

  17. BBC are saying that Mclaren lost appeal too

  18. Yee haaa justice !

    Its on FIA site too

  19. Justice for Kimi/Ferrari perhaps…but can we not reasonably expect now that all teams will turn up in Melbourne with fuel outside the regulations on the basis that “it’s a bit tricky to measure”? I didn’t expect the WDC to change. But I did expect BMW/Williams to get some sort of punishment.

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