20 day wait for Raikkonen’s title confirmation


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The watching world will have to endure a 20 day wait to learn whether Kimi Raikkonen really has won the 2007 world drivers’ championship.

To me this seems an unacceptably long amount of time to wait for such an important decision. Howls of criticism have been hurled at McLaren for choosing to appeal, but I think the real villains here are the FIA and stewards for taking so long.


Appeals against the results of races are nothing new. The most celebrated such case concerned the Ferraris of Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher in the 1999 Malaysian Grand Prix. Initially disqualified (making McLaren’s Mika Hakkinen world champion) they were later reinstated, and the championship was decided at the subsequent Japanese Grand Prix.

On that occasion the FIA mobilised itself quickly enough to hear the appeal in the two-week gap between the two races. This year the appeal against the finishing positions of the Williams and BMW cars in the Brazilian race will take place 25 days after the chequered flag fell.

Of course the court’s first priority is to arrive at the correct verdict. But there is no reason to believe the matter is being delayed to ensure the accuracy of the verdict by waiting for all the evidence to come to light. It seems the extent of the evidence is already available.

The court of appeal was originally scheduled to meet next week to hear the case between Williams and Prodrive over the use of customer cars (which is also pressing and due a resolution). Why can the Brazilian GP enquiry not be heard in this now-vacant slot?

Many argue that it would be injurious to the reputation of Formula 1 for the championship to be decided in a court room. I certainly agree with that point of view. But it is just as bad that there will be such a long wait to see the matter resolved.

Are McLaren right to appeal?

Another popular sentiment is that McLaren are being bad losers by appealing. They can’t win on the track, the argument goes, so they’re trying to win with lawyers.

It’s easy to see things that way especially at the end of another season scarred by controversy. But McLaren aren’t doing anything wrong.

The rules are clear and it seems that two teams broke them. The reaction of the Brazilian Grand Prix stewards to dismiss the case on the grounds of insufficient evidence might seem to some an attempt to dodge the issue on a technicality.

But this is not like accidentally using an extra set of wet weather tyres in non-qualifying practice – four cars might have gained a performance advantage by using fuel that was several degrees cooler than their rivals’ throughout a race. Whether that statement is true or false I cannot say – but it behoves the FIA to make sure.

McLaren has said that, “it does not question the integrity of either the BMW or Williams teams,” suggesting it feels the discrepancy was simply a mistake and not an attempt to gain a performance advantage.

How can McLaren appeal?

Writing in the Autosport.com journal Thomas O’Keefe argued that McLaren’s right to appeal might be rejected on various technicalities.

However the admission of the case to the appeal court would seem to set those issues aside. At any rate, denying McLaren the right to appeal against a decision that might have cost one of their drivers the world championship might not reflect well on the sport.

How will McLaren appeal?

On the face of it the smart money is against McLaren winning the appeal. But this season has been anything but predictable, and McLaren might be able to use their own expertise to transform what looks like a lost cause into a very difficult decision for the appeal court.

Whatever conspiracy theory nonsense has been devised about the FIA favouring Lewis Hamilton, there is no way the sport’s governing body will want to change the identity of the champion after the final race. It would be unprecedented and potentially even worse for F1’s reputation than the ‘spying’ scandal.

But this is not an appeal against Raikkonen’s championship victory. The question before the court is whether four cars (three of which finished in front of Hamilton’s) broke the FIA Technical Regulations article 6.5.4:

No fuel on board the car may be more than ten degrees centigrade below ambient temperature.

There are two key grounds for dispute. First the accuracy of the FIA’s track temperature may be disputed. The FIA put the temperate in the low sixties, but Bridgestone’s thermometers put it in the high forties.

McLaren may point to the fact that every other teams’ fuel was in line with the FIA’s figures, and that on past occasions when these figures have appeared incorrect the FIA have instructed the team to adjust that figure. No such order was given at Interlagos.

The second potential dispute concerns how hot the fuel in the car actually was. BMW and Williams were first investigated because the temperature of the fuel in their refuelling equipment was found to be too low. But would it have been sufficiently high once it had been transferred to their cars?

McLaren might be able to show from their own experience that the fuel would not have been heated to the correct minimum temperature by the act of transferring it into their car.

Much has been made of two supposed precedents that point to different outcomes. When the fuel in Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren was found not to match a reference sample he was disqualified and the drivers who finished behind him promoted in the points standings.

But two years earlier when a similar thing happened to Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard in the Brazilian Grand Prix, both drivers kept their points and their teams lost theirs.

Neither of these cases, however, were to do with fuel temperature.

Further action

The worst possible outcome would be one that leads to a further appeal – particularly if any party chooses to involve a higher authority.

It’s not likely, but with the championship at stake who’s to say this sorry mess might not drag on even longer?

Photos: Ferrari Media | Ferrari Media | Andrew Ferraro / LAT Photographic

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on “20 day wait for Raikkonen’s title confirmation”

  1. My guess is that BMW and Williams will be excluded from the Brazilian GP. But Hamilton will not be bumped upto 4th place. The FIA reserve the right to do this, and in the interest of the championship, it would be the best decision.

  2. I believe that Mclaren have done the right thing appealing for this. Although Raikkonen has had a terrific season this year hamilton deserves to win the title. Basically when raikkonen was second in the race hamilton only had to get 7th place to win the title. but massa let him pass. This means that raikkinen never really won the race it was massa and if massa had won the race which he would of hamilton would of won the title. Also for williams and Bmw it is not one that they are cheating the rules.

  3. “My guess is that BMW and Williams will be excluded from the Brazilian GP. But Hamilton will not be bumped upto 4th place. The FIA reserve the right to do this, and in the interest of the championship, it would be the best decision.”

    I’ll be surprised if that happens. It would very much look like, intentional or not, that the FIA were finding any and every way to stop Mclaren winning the championship. From a PR point of view that kind of ruling would be disastrous, regardless of whether it was fairest or not. And anyway I’m not sure how it would square with other teams, too – Red Bull sitting in 9th with DC would surely be just as annoyed that two teams ahead of them were excluded but that they had effectively “blocked” RBR from points, etc. Plus, when you look at other situations, e.g. Canada (can’t remember the year, 2005?) when Williams and Toyota were removed from points scoring positions because their brake ducts were a tiny bit too big and everyone else moved up, again does not square.

    If (and it’s a big if, given Max has already made up his mind that there’s nothing to answer for) there is a penalty, then I expect either the drivers points will stand but the WCC points will not for BMW/Williams, or there will be no loss of points but some sort of fine to pay.

  4. they won’t dare to give hamilton the title… that’s for sure.
    And yes McLaren’s appeal is normal, if it was midseason, nobody would say a damn thing! As it’s the right thing to do.
    If they did have some horse powers extra because of this, it could have costed Lewis the championship! Cause for a car that has been frozen for some time the bmw and williams went really good.

  5. Those other punishments look just as okay, McKay.

    As long as they don’t make Hamilton champion, which will create uproars across the board, and disillusion many many fans, the punishment won’t matter.

    My solution is one of a last resort, and using it won’t be good PR, but trust me – making Hamilton champion because of this incident will be alot worse, even if McLaren has gone through too much this year…

  6. @ nick clews

    I agree that the final Brazil race result was not possible without the help of Massa or bad luck within the McLaren camp but,Kimi deserves the title more at the end of the season because he was right there with them in the points even after 2 DNFs and,he won the most races overall.

  7. This will not affect the driving championship. Much like the Spygate rendering a “proper” result is one where the drivers keep the points but the teams do not. This will benefit McLaren in that they will get more constructors points which means their record fine will be a little less.

    Max Moronsly and the FIA are a complete joke. Rules enforced at will by untrained, unprofessional people.

  8. Lets hope this doesn’t affect the drivers c’ship…. I am sure no one (read Hamilton) would like to become champion like this.

    Let’s hope all this 2007 season mess gets over soon.

  9. The FIA did not hesitate in causing Mclaren great pain and embarrassment this season. I thus see no reason why Mclaren should not cause them some likewise. Lets not forget, it wasnt Mclaren who made noise out of the whole temperature issue, rather it was the FIA appointed race stewards. For them to now try and hide it under the carpet is rather pathetic.

    To me, let Kimi keep the title, but let the FIA have a red face. Well its red anyway, I mean Ferrari red.

  10. Tut tut oliver never the old fia bias towards ferrari – didnt they get allowed to supply 2 customers engines instead of the regulation one l only? – plus red face or not (how apt a frase – no one involved is going to face a fine as bad as mclaren’s – williams would be bust straight off!!!

  11. For the benefit of “SoLiD” and any others who think the ‘cool fuel’ gives more HORSEPOWER, hence more PERFORMANCE let me assure you it doesn’t. In fact a case could be made for the opposite. Chilling the fuel contracts it’s volume, in others words during a stop one car may take on 30 litres at ambient temperature and the car taking on chilled fuel might get 31 litres. The cost and benefit are obvious, more weight but more distance. Frankly the numbers are so small I don’t understand why this is even an issue except that some one complicated the REGS and now we end up with this mess. At the instant of combustion, ‘fuel temp’ is idealy the same in every engine. McLaren are making fools of themselves by appealing and the FIA will likely make BIGGER fools of themselves with a strange decision. Welcome to F1.

  12. Number 38 — a rule is still a rule. The winner of the last race should have been Massa. If Massa did not let Kimi finished P 2 Hamilton would have needed P 7 to win. Look I don’t believe in taking the championship from Kimi but the rules are the rules. I am glad that I am not a steward this week.

  13. openwheelfan – Are we really sure Massa would have won that race on pace? Although we do know Ferrari have a history of team orders, that was back in the Schumi era. In this post-Schumi era, both Kimi and Felipe had a shot at the title all the way to Fuji. In fact, many of us were saying that if Kimi were to lose the title, it would be partly due to lack of team orders in the 1st half of the season. As for Interlagos, Felipe had a bit of an excursion around a lap or two which brought Kimi right to Felipe’s rear wing before Kimi pitted for the final stop. Whether that was intentional or not, there’s no way for us to prove it was a team order. I’m not saying they did it or didn’t do it. It’s just that they’re innocent unless proven guilty on that count.

    alan – from what I understand, none of the other teams had a problem with Ferrari supplying 2 teams. They did that this year already and no one complained.

    keith – a correction: But two years earlier when a similar thing happened to Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard in the Belgian Grand Prix, both drivers kept their points and their teams lost theirs. – this actually happened in Interlagos, not in Spa, back in 1995. Ironically, it ****** off Ferrari, who would’ve taken the race win with Berger had the drivers also been excluded.

  14. I know it’s not the main point but, anyway, I have to tell it…

    I heard FIA measured the air temperature as 37ºc… I was in São Paulo that weekend (I watched Qualifying, at the M sector, the covered grandstands at the end of the pit straight, in front of Spyker’s garage, close to Williams’, and I was less than 10 miles away from Interlagos on Sunday) and I can assure you it wasn’t hotter than 34ºc…

    From what I heard, there was a big controversy about the real ambient temperature, and that would be another obstacle for McLaren’s appeal…

    As many of you said, after “spygate”, when Hamilton and Alonso had clear benefits for the data stolen from Ferrari, but only the team was punished, It would be the supreme incoherence punishing Rosberg, Kubica and Heidfeld for a minor, probably non intentional violation of the rules by their teams…

    I’m sure Hamilton deserves to be champion on the track (even though China and Brazil showed he’s a “genius-in-the-making”, but still very much “in-the-making”), not in a courtroom…

  15. I’ve been following F1 for the past twenty five years (if not more), never have I witnessed such a chaotic championship. I must admit, I’m a Ferrari Fan, and it’s not up to me to judge, but if I had to be asked for an opinion, I can only come to one conclusion, BAD MANAGEMENT on the part of Mc.Laren. We can blame whoever we want, but, I am sure that if the Management of Mc.Laren used their brain and not their hearts, this year a Mc.Laren driver (and by that, I mean Alonso) would be world champion. Hats off to HAMILTON, a great and memorable year, ending with a bad taste, I must say, Louis is still young and as Sir Jackie Steward said, he will eventually become a world champion. A year to forget for mighty ALONSO, in spite of what he has gone through, he finished second together with Louis, well done Fernando, I’m sure you’ll be in a better position next year. The credits have all got to go to the Cavallo Rampante (the Prancing Horse), Ferrari managed the team wisely and calmly, at times they had crises, but shrewdly they came from behind and took what they believed belonged to them, both the Construction Champions and Drivers Champions and they did that with their technology. The rest is rhetoric.

  16. Thanks Journeyer, fixed.

  17. Mamzee:

    Two races to go, Hamilton was 12 points ahead of Alonso, and the conventional wisdom was that it was the safest bet to support the driver with the greater possibility of winning the drivers championship.
    Alonso was still within a mathematical possibility of also winning, but his chances were more dependent on luck than his own performance.

    When Ferrari got to a similar point, they directed all focus to a single driver. Mclaren on the other hand, decided to give Alonso an opportunity to win it aswell. Alonso was never goin to play a team game, he wanted the win for himself.

    His constant accussations against Mclaren, forced them to continue to dilute their driver support. The net beneficiary was Ferrari.

    Recently Luca De Montezemolo was singing Alonso’s praise, and rebuking Hamilton. Yet he went ahead and signed Massa for another 3 years.
    Do you for one moment believe, he would sign Alonso at the risk of distroying the Harmony that exists in that team? Thats the same reason he was not signed up earlier to replace M. Schumacher, because it was felt he talked too much.

    It is not also in Ferrari’s interest, to help rid Mclaren of a liability, that Alonso has become. Ferrari has realized, that as long as Alonso remains in Mclaren, the instability generated, will be to their benefit. BMW realize that also. For quite some time, BMW kept on delaying, Nick’s contract, with the hope of signing on Alonso. Immediately they saw he would be a liabilty they quickly gave Nick his contract.

  18. “His constant accussations against Mclaren, forced them to continue to dilute their driver support. ”

    Then, the victim forced McLaren.


  19. Carlos,

    I used the word “continue” meaning they had always given both drivers equal opportunities and still maintained that policy when it was not in the interest of the team. Ferrari on the other hand, had switched to backing Kimi from about mid season.

    The victim eventually was Mclaren. And if you hear what Pedro has to say about it all, you will really question the state of mind of Alonso

  20. McLaren was victim of their own mistakes, I think all of us agree in this point. The doubts come about the treatment that Alonso received from McLaren. Pedro(working for McLaren) has an opinion, and many others (Montoya, Briatore, Montezemolo and a very long list ) have a very different opinion.

    If you want to talk about the state of mind of the people, you can do it,(it seems you have direct line with the mind of Alonso, as well as the thoughts of Montezemolo and the BMW team), but I think it drives to nowhere, and for me the 2007 season is done and over.

    The appeal of McLaren is ridiculous, it has been a disastrous year for them, and they are finishing it in the worst way, I am very surprised about Ron Dennis, he had a double champion and a rookie, and he gives preference to the unexperienced one, all the team does know rumours about the Ferrari documents but Dennis says he does not know anything, Hamilton accuses Alonso in Hungary and Dennis is not able to control this…well, I want not to go on, again 2007 season is over.

    I try to be so neutral as possible, but it is not easy to say something good about McLaren in this season, much less about their “equality” to the drivers. I wish them good luck for the next year, but this year, the fate has given what they have deserved.

  21. AmericanTifosi
    28th October 2007, 21:12

    Excuse my ignorance but what advantage would Williams and BMW gain from using colder fuel? Would it simply keep the engine cooler or is there another atvantage? And if, as McLaren says, they didn’t do it on purpose, how on earth could they control faulty fuel temp during a race? What on the car could break that would cause a feul temp drop? And what if something on the car simply broke midway or there was a flawed part of the car? Could the FIA punish them for something breaking?

  22. Cooler fuel is denser, so the car could be refuelled faster, as well as more fuel fitting into the fuel tank. It is unlikely that anything in the car would break to cause a fuel drop, since F1 cars generally don’t carry active cooling units. You’d have to be really careful not to overstretch the tank, though. Even if the in-car cooling failed, it is unlikely that the FIA would have known, because as far as I can make out the measurement is made as the fuel enters the car. And yes, the FIA can punish a team for something breaking. How else could they disqualify Michael Schumacher for damaging his wooden floor at Spa 1994?

  23. I do have to say, the Pro-Mclaren guys should start researching their facts before making these kind of statements about how the FIA rules are Pro-Ferrari, how Ferrari supposedly switched to backing Kimi mid-season, etc… Most of it isn’t true and just polemic. I’m too lazy today to correct them.

  24. Micheal:

    Watch for the Ferrari pit stops when Kimi is car is given 2 or 3 laps more fuel than Massa.

  25. I don’t think Ferrari is supporting Kimi since mid-season, but certainly since Massa was out of contention, they had a clear number one, for obvious reasons, and McLaren would do the same… 2007 wasn’t like when Rubens and Michael were teammates and since the first race the whole time focus’ was Schumacher…

    Yes, not only Kimi stood longer on the track, but Massa, on Raikkonen’s out lap, was 2 seconds lower than unsual, according to a brazilin journalist who investigated it on the timesheets

  26. Let’s be fair to Raikonen; he has displayed humility throughout the season and let his racing do the talking. In the last race, it was his fantastic lap times for 3 laps which enabled him to take the lead at the last pitstop of Massa. Massa may seem to allow Raikonen the lead; but it isn’t so. Further, no one seem to appreciate that Raikonen won the most races; he was nowhere earlier in the lead for the championship because he does not moan because of Ferrari’s lack of reliability at the early stages. Further, I also note that there were no recollection that McLaren did not, or could not even win a race in 2006; and all of a sudden in 2007 begin to do so. I am glad for the finality in the spygate issue.

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