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

  1. The worst thing about this is that I am not surprised about it. I, and I think many F1 fans, feel like battered wives – F1 keeps telling us that it will get better, and then repeatedly knocks us for six.

    The worst thing about it all is Max Moseley’s attitude: he feels vindicated by the confidence vote, and his comments yesterday just show his contempt for us fans: the verdict was decided before the appeal began.

  2. When should we expect verdict???

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd September 2008, 10:15

    McM – probably today, possibly tomorrow

  4. Steven Roy said on 23rd September 2008, 12:58

    Ferrari are classed as an interested party which entitles them to participate. I always assumed that meant that they could present evidence not that they could set up a second front for the prosecution.

    I can’t imagine another organisation on the face of the planet that would not be calling for Charlie Whiting’s resignation now. He said that he called Tony Scott-Andrews and that TSA had changed his mind about the Liuzzi penalty. TSA says not only did he not say that but the conversation never took place. Utterly incredible.

    Quite why TSA changing his mind would have affected anyting is beyond me becasue the appeal was heard presumably before his change of mind.

    I guess this trial is going to save you the trouble of writing a piece to prove Ferrari and the FIA are in cahoots Keith. Not even the blindest Ferrari fan or Hamilton hater can read those columns and not think something is rotten in the FIA.

  5. PlanetF1 (http://www.planetf1.com/story/0,18954,3213_4183805,00.html) states:

    ‘Scott Andrews told the court in Paris: “I have seen the email and I’m extremely surprised by its content. In short, it is grossly inaccurate and misleading.”‘

    Is this true? If so, precisely what integrity does FIA have left? If the email was offered as evidence, isn’t this perjury?

  6. I presume it would only be perjury in an actual civil court, and not some kangaroo-court.

  7. does anybody know something new about the time the verdict will be announced?

  8. Sooooperpigdog said on 23rd September 2008, 14:33

    Jeez, what a shambles… The FIA are so corrupt, it beggars belief.

  9. F1 for me is a dead dog. It is being ruined by the governing bodies, run by a bunch of cheating scum bags just like most countries political parties.

  10. footfarmer said on 23rd September 2008, 15:07

    the verdict will come when Ferrari get around to writing it.. ooops sorry that sounds glib.. but reading the media coverage it really does sound odd that the FIA and Ferrari are cross-examining Hamliton and McLaren – where is Kimi?! I must agree with many many posts; I was an F1 fan who enjoyed watching Kimi and Fernando do battle with old enemy; the clearly brilliant, but master of rule bending, Schumacher.. now the sport seems to being played out by Max Mosley and the FIA off the track..

  11. Sky News are saying the appeal has been rejected for being inadmissable!

  12. The fact that it took 2+ hours after the podium ceremony to make a decision, weeks more to start an appeal hearing, and now additional days to announce the outcome is just ridiculous. The FIA is a corrupt organization of perverted old white men who still think it’s 1900. This case was closed and their decision was made long before the proceedings began in Paris yesterday.

  13. Antifia said on 23rd September 2008, 15:21

    The appeal has just been judged inadmissable.
    Read it and weep.

  14. Scott Joslin said on 23rd September 2008, 15:24

    As much as I was in support of Mclaren in this case, and I am amazed at the same time I find it entirely predictable. I just hope they just put it behind them, and get on with this weekends race and the championship.

  15. Alex Cooper said on 23rd September 2008, 15:28

    Oh the surprise….

  16. Darren Court said on 23rd September 2008, 19:03

    I heard Pat Simmons say he had to believe that the FIA were unbiased. Well Pat may want to believe it but obviously in his heart doesn’t. The long and short of the story is that if looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck than chances are it’s a duck – and F1 is Ferrari biased end of. What can we do about it? Not much – except perhaps find the emails of member countries of the FIA and email everyone and anyone. It’s easy just go to the f1 website then contact us page and to the bottom to find the FIA website. Then look up members and email them. Perhaps if they’re inundated they’ll think twice next time.

  17. Snoopy said on 25th September 2008, 8:16

    This is a little bit fun honestly. Since Hamilton did arrive to F1 is has been more problems and complains than was even time of Schumacher. And Schumi was real trouble makers sometimes. Seems that what ever Lewis do he include in some kind of arguing. If you do not know what i mean just go back to last season and look what was there. That time Ferrari fans was blaiming FIA to be Lewis side all the time and now McLaren fans are blaiming FIA being Ferrari side. And middle of all this is “normal” F1 fans who do not know which side they should be.

    Like i said last year : I do not need watch soap operas anymore, F1 is better than ” Bold and Beautiful” LOL.

  18. FOOORZA said on 25th September 2008, 12:04

    Thats justice. Massa deserved the win in Belgium clearly. His pace was the best, and he is the best even if he does say ‘for sure’ far too often. and Hami cheated. Cheat cheat. FIA = justice. Mosley forever! Max you rock!

  19. @fooorza

    did you actually watch the belgium gp?
    and next time please post an informed comment, and not a fanboy jibe.

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