Some publications are reporting that ‘Ferrari are considering a protest’. Sky, for example, say:
Ferrari are reportedly considering an appeal against the result of Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
If they are successful with any appeal it could alter the destination of the drivers world championship title which Sebastian Vettel won on Sunday at Interlagos. [...]
If Ferrari successfully appeal, the FIA could add 20 seconds to Vettel’s race time which would see the German drop to eighth place in the race – and that would mean Alonso would be world champion.
But Sky and many others running similar stories have overlooked that Ferrari cannot lodge an appeal at this stage.
Article 174 (d) of the International Sporting Code makes this clear (emphasis added):
Protests against any error or irregularity occurring during a competition, referring to the non-compliance of vehicles with the regulations and concerning the classification established at the end of the event shall, except in circumstances which the stewards of the meeting consider as physically impossible, be made within thirty minutes of the official publication of the results.
This will be familiar to everyone who remembers the end of the 2007 season, when McLaren attempted to protest the result of that year’s season finale in Brazil in a dispute over fuel temperatures. Their appeal was declared inadmissible because they had protested against a stewards’ decision instead of doing what article 174 (d) told them to – namely, to protest the race classification within 30 minutes of the results being published.
If Ferrari were going to protest the results of the Brazilian Grand Prix, they should have done the same thing, but obviously they haven’t.
The only way this can be investigated now is if the FIA chooses to do so. Again the International Sporting Code explains the procedure (article 179bis Right of Review):
If, in events forming part of a FIA Championship, a new element is discovered, whether or not the stewards of the meeting have already given a ruling, these stewards of the meeting or, failing this, those designated by the FIA, must meet on a date agreed amongst themselves, summoning the party or parties concerned to hear any relevant explanations and to judge in the light of the facts and elements brought before them. [...]
The period during which an appeal in review may be brought expires on 30 November of the year during which the decision that is liable to review has been handed down, if that decision is likely to have an effect on the result of a championship.
Note the deadline – that’s tomorrow. So unlike in 2007, we won’t have to wait very long to discover the outcome of this one.