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

  2. 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.

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

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

  4. 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.

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

    Oh the surprise….

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. @fooorza

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

  10. FOOORZA said on 25th September 2008, 12:58

    WTH.

    yes i did see it. Massa was the most consistent and stayed out of trouble showing that he used his head while Kimi and Hamhead were going off all over the place very silly in those conditions so for sure Massa deserved the win. And he’s tall.

  11. foorza, i totally disagree!
    f1 is about racing, and racing is about coming first, no matter what the circumstances.
    and to be treated to watching 2 of the top drivers duke it out wheel to wheel is indeed a treat sorely missed. yet after watching the seasons best race (apart from monza) and have it marred by a legal wrangle (just or unjust) brings the sport into disrepute, imo.
    and where was massa? consistently a few seconds behind with no threat the kimi or lewis. i’m not sure how you ascertain his merit?

  12. FOOORZA said on 25th September 2008, 13:32

    I like to see racing. but fair race. lewis cheated then tried to hide by go back to 2nd but slipped in Kimi’s stream. Thats not fair. It was mclaren who went to the court.

    Massa took it deservingly after kimi couldn’t. I think Felipe is the greatest since the Great German – Schumacher. Massa is the saviour and future of F1. And he’s not short, in fact above average in height.

  13. hey each to his/her own, although i do shudder when people compare current drivers to schumi, its just not right.
    but you more than entitled to back which ever pony you choose.

    but one question, why the fixation with massa’s height? who cares if the wee man is vertically challenged? i would still think he’s a so-so driver if he was tall.

    o and hamilton technically did not cheat, unless you consider massa a cheat too? ;-)

  14. FOOORZA said on 25th September 2008, 14:38

    Hamilton is far too arrogant for his age. He’s not that good, Massa has far more class on the track. Hamilton is total over-rated and and despite what people say not tall, in fact i think he’s shorter than Massa and almost the whole grid for sure

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