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. mail123456, thanks. I just get more and more absurd every week. Despite the last two races being great, I’m losing more and more interest in F1 as a championship. And remember, Kimi is a favorite of mine, so I’m not just into this “hate Ferrari – hate McLaren” thing…

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd September 2008, 8:45

    Regarding the Ferrari lawyer, I think any team that wants to make representations at an appeal can do. Given the championship situation (not just the drivers’ title – if McLaren wins the appeal, they will be ahead in the constructors’ championship), and the fact the original incident involved Kimi Raikkonen, I’m not surprised Ferrari wishes to state its case.

  3. diseased rat said on 23rd September 2008, 8:47

    Given that Stefano Domenicali claimed the penalty was all the FIA’s doing and Ferrari had not lodged a complaint about the maneuver I am confused as to why Hamilton is being cross examined by a Ferrari lawyer and not an FIA lawyer.

  4. diseased rat said on 23rd September 2008, 8:49

    Keith at post 16, that makes sense then I suppose. I’d edit my post 17 but don’t appear to have the option.

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd September 2008, 8:58

    Diseased rat – afraid the edit plugin has been giving some MySQL problems and with the site likely to be very busy today I’ve temporarily disabled it. Will hopefully be back later in the week.

  6. 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.

  7. When should we expect verdict???

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

    McM – probably today, possibly tomorrow

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

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

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

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

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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..

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