Bernie Ecclestone worried FIA will give title to Lewis Hamilton

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On the day before the FIA Court of Appeal meets in London to hear McLaren’s protest against the result of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Bernie Ecclestone has threatened to quit if Lewis Hamilton is handed the title:

I don’t think that the Formula One fans would like a championship to be won because the temperature of the fuel, which can’t be measured anyway, is possibly 5C out. If anybody thinks that’s the best thing for Formula 1, then I’d have a very serious thought about me retiring.

This lends weight to the suspicion that the outcome of the hearing is a foregone conclusion, and that McLaren has no chance of succeeding.

Although Ecclestone, as the head of Formula One Management, is not responsible for making the decision, his opinion will be considered highly influential. When the FIA found McLaren guilty of using Ferrari’s intellectual property it was the intervention of Ecclestone and other parties that ensured Hamilton and Fernando Alonso remained in the drivers’ championship.

Nonetheless, the fact that Ecclestone has chosen to voice the threat might suggest he is genuinely concerned the FIA might disqualify the BMWs and Williams cars from the Brazilian Grand Prix, elevating Hamilton to fifth place or higher, and giving him the points he needs to become champion.

Speaking to The Times, the newspaper he usually chooses to voice his opinions, Ecclestone said:

I don’t think anything’s going to happen if it goes through. In my opinion, they don’t have to change the results of the race – it’s an infringement of the regulations. On the same weekend, McLaren used an extra set of tyres, which they shouldn’t have used – that was an infringement – so maybe if anything does happen at this Court of Appeal, maybe they’ll treat it exactly the same as the tyres.

The venue of the hearing was switched to London instead of Paris due to an ongoing traffic strike in the French capital.

Read more about the Brazilian Grand Prix fuel controversy

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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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37 comments on “Bernie Ecclestone worried FIA will give title to Lewis Hamilton”

  1. I’m a huge Hamilton fan and even I think the best man won.

    It was a little hard to take at first because it hadn’t been the best week for British sports men but in the end kimi won and rightly deserved the title.

    If the title is over turned and Mclaren does win in the court I think Hamilton will lose fans through no fault of his own.

    Mclaren should just let it go!!

  2. But that’s no reason to ignore potential misdemeanours other teams have committed. There are plenty of awkward things to measure in F1, and the FIA have always been scrupulous in adhering to the laws. It’s not Bernie’s job to make comments that basically seem to try and sway the outcome of any independent panels judgement. The rules have to be applied fairly, and to all. If Mclarens fuel had been 5C below the regulated temperature Max would be throwing the book at them.

    I’m not saying Raikkonen ought to lose his championship. But neither am I saying that he should be allowed to keep it just because Bernie says so. The winner should be as a result of all the rules having been applied firmly and fairly and without intervention by a man who has vested interests in the result.

  3. I think a likely outcome will be that if a ‘level handed’ punishment is to be applied (after wrong doing has been proven) Williams and BMW will lose their constructors points for the final race with the drivers results staying in place.

    What an awkward situation for Kimi, Lewis and the whole if F1 if the results are over turned.

    Fingers crossed for a sensible conclusion.

  4. I agree – the sensible option (following on from other decisions this year) would be to dock the constructors points and not the drivers.

    Which I don’t agree with – a team is a team after all, but if McLaren can be divided up into “team” and “drivers” then so can the rest.

  5. “I agree – the sensible option (following on from other decisions this year) would be to dock the constructors points and not the drivers.

    Which I don’t agree with – a team is a team after all, but if McLaren can be divided up into “team” and “drivers” then so can the rest.”

    Makes sense. Especially this year with the spygate punishment.

    But in the overall scheme of things, doesn’t really square with things like when the Williams and Toyota drivers were excluded from the Canadian GP a few years ago for having brake ducts a few millimetres too big: there was no distinction then between team and drivers.

    The FIA’s fudge on the spygate ruling has got them into this mess – banning the team but not the drivers, when clearly at least one driver was in the know made no sense, and so everything since then has had to bear that in mind.

  6. how do we read this – well it’s the puppet master calling the shots again – bernie has for years dictated f1 policy – forget the fia – they are firmly in his pocket – so it will be that the points are removed for the teams involved – also they will insist that a temperature gauge/sensor would be installed in the ful tank to stop any errors in future – personally if bernie went no loss.
    The main thing is Lewis wants to win the title on the track not by default – and its only because of the earlier complaints that the appeal was raised – so I agree the fia has started the situation through earlier appeals.

  7. I think it was Bernie himself who wanted Hamilton to win the championship, now it is just a bit of sense, if Hamilton would win the title in this way, it would be his own tomb in the sporting world.
    Nobody, nor him, wants such a champion.

    Mclaren has had too much problems this season, to finish claiming against the champion (even being right their appeal), it is not the best sporting way. If bmw and williams did something wrong, they should to pay, not Kimi.

  8. Politics has partly destroyed F1 this year. It was more controversial than 1989 Suzuka. Lewis wants to win the Title on the track not default. BMW and Williams should be punished not Kimi, think about the years he has missed out (2003,2005). Please respond to my comment.

  9. I don’t agree Hamilton wants to “win the title on the track not default.” He said earlier:

    It would be wrong. For me, I want to win it on the track. You want to do it in style, you want to win the race, you want to win battling it out for the lead or something in the race. Being promoted after some people have been thrown out is not the way I want to do it.

    Autosport – Hamilton doesn’t want a title won on appeal (external)

  10. I don’t want to see Lewis winning the championship in the court room. Maybe they can dock BMW and Williams points, or impose a financial penalty. Rules must be applied for everybody, not just for Mclaren, but it does not mean that I want the drivers disqualified. Kimi deserves the champioship, ’cause he got it in the right way. I hope that we get a fair outcome of all this!

  11. yeah, it would be a travesty is hamilton was handed the title this way,,,

    But wouldnt it be worth it if we could get Bernie to quit!

  12. Was not the ferrari using an illegal flexable floor in the
    first race of the season. meaning kimi -10 points.So the williams & bmw freezing fuel is a side ussue.however I stilol like to see kimi keep the chapionship because hw,s a racer.

  13. This cool fuel business is much ado about nothing. 5*C cooler fuel may have allowed them to carry a half litre more fuel, that’s NOT a performance advantage that can be measured and one might add more fuel is a DIS-advantage on some occassions.
    Breaking the rules ? Doesn’t this prove there are too many rules already? Temperature of fuel was no concern when Fangio and Grahm Hill, et al, won Championships. But perhaps ‘carldec’ has the best response: “But wouldnt it be worth it if we could get Bernie to quit!” Next… overthrow MadMax !!!

  14. I’d like to buy Robert McKay a pint at his favorite pub while we discuss: “the FIA have always been scrupulous in adhering to the laws.” Anyone else care to join us?

  15. @Number 38:
    Q. What is this fuel rule all about and why is it important?

    Martin Whitmarsh – McLaren F1 CEO: It has been around for about 20 years in fact, so it is not new. Cooler fuel gives an advantage in terms of more power, greater reliability and quicker flow of fuel into the tank. The teams even carry fuel chillers around with them to races to achieve this.

    In order, however, to prevent extreme measures being adapted to cool fuel temperatures a limit was determined that the fuel in the rigs not being allowed to be more than 10 degrees C below the ambient temperature.

  16. to number 38 – hope it’s a properly cooled pint – not luke warm as some of the fia descisions this year – personaly I think they dont know whether they want to play good cop or bad cop – makes you as dizzy as a good few pints

  17. In the hearing today McLaren’s lawyer has argued Lewis Hamilton should be given the title:

    The principle is clear. If there was a breach, it was performance-enhancing. The sanction, I’m afraid, has to be disqualification.

    I ask you to address this as though it was any team at any stage of the season. Whenever in the past there has been a disqualification, there has been a re-classification. All we ask you to do is what normally happens.

    The driver may be entirely innocent… but he has the benefit of the infringing car. It must be right that if the team is disqualified, the driver loses the points as well. In the other case, the drivers were offered immunity if they assisted the FIA.

    The court is yet to rule on whether the appeal is admissible.

  18. Where are you getting this info, Keith? I wanna see it too. :)

  19. It seems to be on all the news sites, but where are they getting the info from?

    I don’t like the approach McLaren’s lawyers took on this one. It’s making the team look inconsistent and flip-flopping on its statement that they’re just asking for a clarification.

    The lawyer said that the judges should forget about the big picture and act on this issue as if it were any regular issue (without the Title in the balance). Do you agree with this viewpoint? Or does the big picture (with its special Title repercussions) still have to be considered in this case?

  20. My spies are everywhere… Sorry, here’s the piece:

    Reuters – McLaren lawyer seeks title for Hamilton (external)

    Regarding McLaren’s approach, it seems like the way you would present a case like this. You’ve got to aim for the best result possible and use every argument you can otherwise there’s no point in appealing.

    Plus there’s a PR battle to be fought. If this gets thrown out on a technicality the journalists who write it up will have the words of the McLaren lawyer ringing in their ears, and may present the outcome as being that the governing body had to choose between giving Hamilton the title or opting for a technical fudge.

  21. Mclaren lying again…recently didnt they say they just want rules clarification. Does’nt look like it now.

  22. Martin Whitmarsh had said this:

    ‘Victory’, for us, would be a clarification of the rationale behind the FIA Stewards’ decision at the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix – a clarification, indeed, that we regard as essential not only for us but for all our competitors, to enable all teams to race in compliance with the regulation regarding fuel temperatures throughout the 2008 Formula One season.

    That was in an Autosport story titled “McLaren just want rules clarification” (external link).

    But Whitmarsh also said:

    We ourselves lost a constructors’ championship at the International Court of Appeal in 1999 when it was, in effect, retrospectively awarded to Ferrari when the ruling of the stewards that their bargeboards were illegal was overturned.

    And I don’t think anyone seriously believes they’ve brought this appeal not thinking they might get a championship out of it.

  23. “And I don’t think anyone seriously believes they’ve brought this appeal not thinking they might get a championship out of it.” (Keith)

    Mclaren aren’t going to get a championship out of this, Ron’s doing this for his boy wonder!

  24. In saying this: “The driver may be entirely innocent… but he has the benefit of the infringing car. It must be right that if the team is disqualified, the driver loses the points as well.”

    By the same logic, shouldn’t that mean Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso be striped of their 109 points this season? I’m not trying to instigate another McLaren are cheats flame, but seeing as they were found guilty, then I don’t think the lawyer should be using words as such.

  25. Sorry, only just read the follow up part about immunity…! my bad.

  26. Maybe a little agrivation and annoyance to MadMax also! What has McLaren got to loose? I think the disappointment here is most of us thought Ron Dennis was above this sort of foolishness.
    It appears we were wrong!

  27. Ferrari are also at the appeal and their lawyer Nigel Tozzi said this:

    “It would be a serious injustice to Mr Raikkonen were the championship to be taken away from him

    It would be highly damaging for the sport if the title were to won this way with the fans probably feeling it was more about grubby manoeuvring by the lawyers than by skill behind the wheel.

    As McLaren have always said, the championship should be decided on the racetrack and not in the courtroom.

    Tozzi called McLaren, “shameless hypocrites devoid of any integrity”.

    No word on Williams or BMW’s defence yet but BMW’s lawyer Ian Meakin described the appeal as “naked opportunism”.

  28. If McLaren were really gunning for the title, why did they say they just wanted a clarification? If that were the case, they were better off keeping their mouths shut.

    It’s just irritating. I don’t blame them going after the title; what I don’t like is that they’re saying one thing and doing something else. Asking for a clarification is not equal to asking for a disqualification.

  29. Whoops, just saw your post, Keith. Naked opportunism – well put! This transcript should make for good bedtime reading – just like the Spygate transcripts!

  30. True but I think Ferrari are no better than McLaren. Ferrari may say it would be bad for F1 if the championship changed hands in the courtroom, but arguably they won the ’99 and ’07 constructors’ championships that way and they didn’t complain then.

    They’re both equally competitive teams and they’ll win by any means necessary.

  31. Keith I agree ferrari are not adverse to accepting rulings when it goes their way – but things seem to go their way most of the time or is it just me not liking ferrari again?

  32. Well I guess the original spygate verdict didn’t go Ferrari’s way…

  33. Bernie gone how can that be a bad thing

  34. Look at it this way. Bernie grew up in F1, from the 1950s to today. Now, it’s already been stated that he will not be replaced by a single person, but by a board of directors from CVC – in other words, guys in suits – like those ruling the roost at Toyota or Ford. These guys will care even less than Bernie about the racing, trust me. It’ll only be about the profits.

    Better the devil you know…

  35. Hmm. I’m surprised Max didn’t call Bernie’s bluff and give the championship to Lewis. ;)

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