McLaren claims the FIA mis-represented its own steward in Lewis Hamilton trial

Vitantonio Liuzzi\'s appeal last year set a problematic precedent for the FIA

Vitantonio Liuzzi's appeal last year set a problematic precedent for the FIA

The Times’ Ed Gorman reported a very surprising development during today’s hearing into Lewis Hamilton’s controversial Spa penalty.

According to Gorman, McLaren produced a document claiming the FIA tried to undermine McLaren’s argument about the admissibility of the appeal by mis-representing the position of one of its own stewards.

The question of admissibility

A crucial part of the hearing concerns whether McLaren actually can appeal Hamilton’s penalty. Hamilton was given a 25-second penalty because there was no time to make him serve a drive-through penalty. As drive-through penalties can’t be appealed against, therefore Hamilton cannot appeal his penalty.

However, one driver has already had an appeal heard in exactly the same circumstances. Vitantonio Liuzzi was given a 25-second penalty after last year’s Japanese Grand Prix, but took the matter to appeal. The appeal was heard, and although Liuzzi didn’t win, it must have been considered admissible.

FIA claims a change of mind

McLaren had informed the FIA what arguments they were going to make in the Hamilton trial (which I believe they are required to do – it’s not a case of them mistakenly ‘showing their hand’). This included reference to the Liuzzi appeal.

However the FIA responded to McLaren claiming that the chief steward at the Japanese Grand Prix, Tony Scott Andrews, had since changed his mind about the incident, and believed it should have been a drive-through penalty. Therefore, Liuzzi would not have been able to appeal, leaving McLaren with no precedent.

The FIA claimed Scott Andrews had informed Charlie Whiting of his opinion via telephone. McLaren were contacted by the FIA by email to inform them of Scott Andrews’ change of opinion.

“Grossly inaccurate and misleading”

Wanting to be sure of the facts, McLaren contacted Scott Andrews. He told them the FIA’s email was “grossly inaccurate and misleading.”

McLaren’s lawyer Mark Phillips read out a statement from Scott Andrews which said that Whiting had not asked him if he’d changed his mind about the decision he made regarding Liuzzi in Japan and said: “Had he done so, the answer would have been ‘no’”

Ed Gorman’s opinion is:

What on earth was the FIA up to? Why did they make such a big effort to discredit McLaren’s precedent, even misrepresenting Scott Andrews in the process, when their lawyer could have dealt with it in court? It certainly smells fishy but I suspect it will be no more than a sideshow and will not affect the overall findings.

Are the FIA going to ram home a verdict of “appeal not admissible” against Hamilton and McLaren having apparently made an attempt at changing their own former stewards’ viewpoint without having consulted him?

Or is there more to this than meets the eye?

Tony Scott Andrews is no longer the FIA permanent steward. That role is now filled by Alan Donnelly, who has played a prominent role in this case, and was the only steward to interview Hamilton in the enquiries at the track, despite his name not appearing on the stewards’ decision.

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47 comments on McLaren claims the FIA mis-represented its own steward in Lewis Hamilton trial

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  1. Steven Roy said on 22nd September 2008, 23:30

    I really don’t believe how blatant the FIA are.

    Alan Donnelly is not a qualified steward so how he can conduct the interview is beyond me. I want to know what the three appointed stewards have to say about signing a penalty notice when they have not interviewed the drivers involved. The FIA is making them look like mugs. I hope they are being well paid for giving away their credibility.

  2. “Or is there more to this than meets the eye?”

    is it not possible that tony might hold a grudge against the fia in some respect? or alternatively that mclaren might be misrepresenting him, rather than the fia.

    it’s a long shot i guess.

  3. Anonymouse said on 23rd September 2008, 0:16

    This “sport” is bent.

  4. Peter Boyle said on 23rd September 2008, 0:42

    Better article on:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/formula_1/article4806012.ece

    Also, thread over on f1insight.

    Sidepodcast:

    “Scott Andrews wrote in a lengthy submission which was read to the court by Phillips.”

    Whiting reported an uncorroborated telephone call.

    I know which I think leaves more scope for misrepresentation, and that the more than meets the eye lies with the FIA depostion.

    A key witness, judge in the “lower” court,instigator of the stewards inquiry after (on tape) entraping Mclaren with his judgement that they had done enough to cede, is (after later clarifying the rules to back himself up) now found preparing misrepresentative evidence on admissibility for the higher court.

    If this were real law and not a sporting body, the “witness” would have removed from the preparation, presentation, and further judgement of the FIA case
    other than as a witness.

  5. bernification said on 23rd September 2008, 1:34

    Sidepodcast, I think that McLaren would be foolish to the extreme to try and misrepresent any thing here, but it doesn’t matter. Max will never allow this to go ahead.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the most biased court in the world.

    It really is time this nasty little man was shown the door.

  6. bernification said on 23rd September 2008, 1:37

    A question- if the stewards are the people who imposed this penalty why is Ferrari’s lawyer- Nigel Tozzi- conducting the cross examination?

    Does this sound more one sided by the day?

  7. Where was the hearing held, the Karl Lagerfeld bondage rooms?

  8. “Sidepodcast, I think that McLaren would be foolish to the extreme to try and misrepresent any thing here, but it doesn’t matter.”
    good point, can’t argue with that.

  9. peterg said on 23rd September 2008, 8:02

    Without doubt the best example of how arrogant & unaccountable the FIA is. So much for due process, “don’t mention the Luizzi case, we have changed it retrospectively”

    Third world dictactors normally go through the charade of having an opponent “shot while trying to escape”; not the FIA, no they just shoot whoever, whenever the whim takes them..

    The real problem is that there is no foothold for reformers in the organisation, it has become the ultimate old boys club. Mosley’s vote of confidence proved the majority are interestyed in maintaining the status quo.

  10. What in the bloody hell?? I can’t beleive this!! Let’s just donate the championship to Ferrari .FIA , you destroying the sport -STOP FIA!!!-

  11. PlanetF1 writes this about yesterday:

    “Following an adjournment, Hamilton then stood up to the test of effectively being put on the stand, with the 23-year-old holding firm under cross-examination from Ferrari’s counsel, Nigel Tozzi QC.”

    Anyone know why on earth a Ferrari counsel is involved? Isn’t the hearing McLaren vs. FIA?

  12. mail123456 said on 23rd September 2008, 8:22

    @saab – Keith pointed great article:
    http://blogs.iht.com/tribtalk/sports/f1/?p=503

    “Activities in the courtroom, however, got quite heated up in what amounted to a very clear battle pitting McLaren against both the FIA and Ferrari.”

  13. NDINYO said on 23rd September 2008, 8:24

    I am speechless – what business did a Ferrari Lawyer have in a FIA case? Why was FIA changing the precedent?

  14. Saab ,Saab ,Saab …Ferrari-Fia Where is the difference ?Possibly the Fia’s lawyer had a meeting and they asked their dudes to send one, that simple!

    FIA = Ferrari International Assistance

    F1 = Ferrari is no.1(formula…? not a chance)

    I can say no more I am tired accusing FIA for conspiracies , It’s obvious that The championship is’t fair and squere .I only hope Max will have a heart attack in his next meeting with the six girls next door…

  15. The comments from Max that you reported yesterday show that the FIA are already treating McLaren unfairly.
    Is this more that the FIA don’t like being shown to be in the wrong? Are they really so desparate that they have to change their statements and try to wrong foot the opposition (and do it so blatently)?
    I’m beginning to see Jackie Stewart’s point, the sport should be run by professionals, and accountable ones at that!

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