McLaren’s appeal verdict due on Friday

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The decision on McLaren’s appeal against the results of the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix – that could hand the championship from Kimi Raikkonen to Lewis Hamilton – has been postponed until tomorrow.

Martin Whitmarsh said of the court hearings:

At today’s hearing all parties had the opportunity to present evidence and make arguments based on their respective perception of the facts. It now lies with the FIA International Court of Appeal to deliberate and issue a decision.

As I made clear prior to the appeal, the team was seeking to clarify the regulatory uncertainty that has arisen from a decision of the FIA Stewards at the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix and not to win the Driver’s World Championship.

Our lawyer’s argument that an appropriate penalty would be a disqualification of the cars is based on the fact that this is ordinarily what has occurred during the last 20 years in Formula One when there was a breach of a technical regulation during a race.

Consequently whilst this was the only appropriate argument from a legal point of view, it’s not our ultimate goal in respect of today’s hearing.

McLaren’s lawyer Ian Mill began the hearing by arguing that Hamilton should be awarded the title:

We offer no special plea on behalf of the team, but I ask you to do what normally happens. It’s clear the infringement of this rule did have a performance-enhancing effect.

If you put in cool fuel it increases the horse power.

The principle is clear: if there was a performance enhancement, there was a breach and there has to be a disqualification. I ask you to address this as though it was any team at any stage of the season.

It cannot make a difference it was the last race of the season, and that it will decide the championship. Invariably, whenever there has been a disqualification, there has been a reclassification.

He added:

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.

Ferrari’s lawyer Nigel Tozzi attacked McLaren’s appeal:

This is not the way a Formula One world championship should be won. Mr [Lewis] Hamilton himself, potentially the only beneficiary, has said very clearly he does not want to win the championship this way.

Mr Norbert Haug, head of Mercedes motorsport, has again gone on the record and said McLaren are not appealing in order to claim the championship. Mr Martin Whitmarsh in an interview yesterday said ‘finding a way to award the world drivers’ championship to Lewis retrospectively, is not at all what this is about’.

It could be said McLaren are shameless hypocrites devoid of any integrity, or maybe what their representatives have said should be taken at face value.

If what they want is clarity, then by all means let them have that, but do not allow them to have the world championship this way.

It would be a serious injustice to Mr Raikkonen should the world title be taken away from him, a fact recognised by Mr Hamilton and Mr [Fernando] Alonso. As McLaren are fond of saying: ‘The championship should be decided on the track and not in the courtroom’

BMW’s lawyer Ian Meakin described the appeal as “naked opportunism”.

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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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41 comments on “McLaren’s appeal verdict due on Friday”

  1. I must admit that I thought McLaren’s viewpoint a tad hypocritical. I actually agree that the drivers should not be differentiated from the team and should be punished as well – but then I thought that about McLaren in the spying saga too.

    Based on the fact Hamilton and Alonso escaped punishment there then the same should apply here if there is to be any consistency.

    Not that that usually stops the FIA…

    I can’t believe they are making us wait until tomorrow for the verdict!

  2. Why is Ferrari’s lawyer involved in this case, when it’s McLaren appealing against BMW?

  3. I would say the BMW lawyer got it spot on …

    If all that McLaren wanted was “was seeking to clarify the regulatory uncertainty” they could have used other channels … I do not deny them the right to appeal, but in that case they should not try to hide what they are really after … the driver’s title.

    After hearing what McLaren lawyer had to say, I am no longer convinced that Hamilton does not want to win the title in the court… There is as much true in that as in his earlier statements that taxes have nothing to do with his move to Switzerland …

  4. Quoting Mclaren lawyer…..
    “It must be right that if the team is disqualified, the driver loses the points as well.”

    Is it just me or does anyone else feel sick to the stomach with Mclaren.
    Had the FIA given the same punishment to their drivers as their cheating team they wouldnt have had the meeting today….are they from a completely different planet where there is no morals?
    They should be penalised for wasting time, and bringing the sport into direpute…..Bring on the Rally of Ireland thie weekend!

  5. bring on the Macau GP ! :-)

  6. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the best time for this case, however its important, the FIA shows consistency on such matters, especially those where there are obvious performance gains from such infringements.

    Mclaren have to state their case, and hightlight the importance of such inconsistency, if they are proved to be correct, it is for them to now indicate they have no interest in either the disqualification of the cars or and the promotion of their car or driver.

  7. I don’t think the comparisons with the ‘spygate’ affair hold. Remember that in the spygate hearing McLaren’s drivers were specifically given a promise of immunity by the FIA in exchange for their evidence.

    As McLaren’s lawyer has pointed out it is very common, in the cases of technical infringement that give a performance advantage, for the guilty parties to be removed from the results and the other drivers and teams promoted. There are dozens of examples – BAR at Imola in 2005 being one.

    Futhermore, it was never conclusively proven exactly what material performance advantage McLaren might have gained during the espionage affair. No even ever managed to find a part on the McLaren and say ‘that came from a Ferrari’ or even ‘that was inspired by a part on a Ferrari’.

    So I think McLaren’s line of argument holds but, as I say, there means of communicating it leaves something to be desired. The ‘we aren’t trying to get the championship overturned’ line is not credible.

    And I agree about the Macau GP only I don’t think it is being broadcast in the UK which is pathetic…

  8. Nikos Darzentas
    15th November 2007, 17:36

    my fellow f1fanatic readers covered me with their comments… I’m still wondering though how much more damage are McLaren able to inflict to themselves this year!

  9. Aha, you said it better than I tried to Keith.

    We the audience, must cease to do a “Lauda” and be quick to condemn. Lets await the outcome and not try to read court proceedings as statements of intent.

  10. It is very convenient to Hamilton say he is not interested in the title, while he knows that his team is trying get it for him.

    What does pretend Mclaren? Are they testing the strenght of Fia, to get benefits “quid pro quo”?

    Well, oliver is right, the best is to await…but it is very sad to see a great team involved in such a dispute.

  11. I’m sorry I don’t have much time right now, but the Pro-McLaren front on here is just ridiculously hypocritical, and that includes you Keith. Of course what is being said in a court proceeding is statement of intent!!! There are few places where the exact wording of what is being said are as important as in court. McLaren are acting exactly opposite on what Whitmarsh said. Let’s all not forget that this complaint is a farce in itself, beginning from where the reading of the fuel temps was taken, the different “official” ambient temps, etc…

  12. As I said, Michael, I understand their line of argument but I think them presenting their case as being ‘not about taking the championship’ is not believable. It’s not necessary to take either McLaren or Ferrari’s sides, and I don’t.

    But I do think the argument concerns McLaren and BMW/Williams, not McLaren and Ferrari. I want to know what BMW and Williams’ counter-arguments are.

  13. “McLaren’s lawyer Ian Mill began the hearing by arguing that……
    cool fuel increases the horse power.” Where did he get this drivil”? The cool fuel is almost
    instantly heated when blended in the tank with the remaining fuel, will be further heated with returning fuel from the injection rail
    and I can assure everyone the temperature is raised several hundred degrees just prior to ignition…….every engine using the same fuel will combust at the same temperature no matter who’s engine! The cool fuel business has only to do with the VOLUME at the time of re-fueling. This is not a PERFORMANCE enhancing proceedure. Fuel temperature
    may be a FIA regulation. BMW and Williams may be in violation of some FIA reg but for a lawyer to state cool fuel
    “increases horsepower” is just rubbish. I also find it odd that no one wants Hamilton to win the championship in the court room, no one but the LAWYER !!!!!!

  14. if mclaren succeed in appeal that will be double standard. no point to watched f1 anymore…….

  15. as I said somewhere above, if all that McLaren wanted was a clarification of the rules, they did not have to choose this route and drag the whole F1 into sort of apepal court that can influence the championship outcome. But no, they even said themselves that had no choice, they had to appeal … Everybody has choice …

    so whatever Whitmarsh and Hamilton said to the media has no credibility at all because the way they approached the appeal hearing is so obviously focused on claiming the title … or does anyone believe that their lawyer did not consult his speach with the McLaren’s top brass …

    If they want to win the title in the court why they just don’t say so ? why are they hiding behind the “clarification excuse”

    I had some sympathy with McLaren after their fine and exclusion, but now I have none at all, and not much respect left … Not because they appealed, they have full right to do that. But because of the games they are playing …

  16. In full agreement with Milos, i’d say it’s blatantly hypocritical of McLaren to try and win a championship in court while saying completely the opposite. They criticize Ferrari for trying to win a championship in court, when all the world + donkey, they knew that Macca screwed Ferrari with stolen information. Ron had the gall then to claim innocence and ignorance of the same. His own employee gave the game away then. Coughlan admitted as much as Whitmarsh, Neale Jonathan and others being in the know.

    Well, Macca, they clearly are disgusting fans of the sport, that once was, and their own fans, who i know batted for them through the spy saga. One more thing, which i think is hilarious is, their allegations on FIA favoring Ferrari. This year past, if anyone really had some favors from FIA, that was Macca, it’s drivers(the name Hamilton comes to mind, with reference to Nurburgring, Fuji, Interlagos and not to mention Spy Saga).

    ’nuff said! I just wish someone would now perhaps tighten the screws on them.

    Anyways, if someone thinks, Hamilton deserves it more than Kimi, then chew on the fact that the “golden boy” lost a 17 points lead going into the last 2 races. How many times has it happened in the past, eh? Lemme think, “none!” Better man won, fair and square.

    Hey Keith, by the by, the amnesty offered to drivers was in lieu of evidence. So do you think, when Hamilton refused to cooperate with the FIA, he had a case for one? Also, does anyone really think that Hamilton would not have the information which was freely doing rounds in Macca, as admitted by Coughlan? Dunno, all this stinks, if you ask me. Real bad!

  17. Sorry Sri I don’t understand your question. When did Hamilton refuse to co-operate with the FIA? He was at the hearing even though he wasn’t named in any of the evidence presented, which seems to have exclusively concerned Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso.

    As I’ve argued elsewhere, refusing to share any evidence he might have when the testimony of de la Rosa and Alonso could have implicated him would never have been a risk worth taking, given that the FIA had offered him amnesty.

  18. Not giving anything as evidence, should not have accorded Hamilton amnesty. As amnesty was in lieu of evidence, which Alonso and Pedro provided. Keep in mind, that many in the McLaren had known about the information and for long, which is what formed the basis for disqualification, on grounds of unfair advantage/breaking regulations, in plain speak. For some more dabs at it, refer to the FIA/WMSC statements in their releases.

    Precisely why would you think Hamilton went to Paris? It would have been easy for FIA/WMSC to revoke his superlicense, in his absence at the hearing, won’t it? Especially, as he offered no evidence. Even at the hearing, he claimed ignorance, which was confirmed by Mosley and Hamilton’s Lawyer. Do you really think, if there’s any data which is available to test team, the same would not be available to the lead drivers(especially to one who’s Ron’s pet)? In the view of the same, he merits an axe, which is precisely what i sought for him. Being loyal is one thing and being honest another. Let’s not mix the two. Hamilton was Loyal to the team, not honest about the team(which is my point that i was trying to make). However, proving dishonesty, i admit is quite tough. What irritates me really, is the fact, that he is given the clean chit so easily(Whiter than white, is he?).

    I agree completely when you say that Hamilton(if hiding evidence), he could have been easily implicated by the mails of Alonso & Pedro. A risk not worth taking. Which is the only grey area. Would you think this assumption of mine is correct, that he wouldn’t necessarily have had to go through them(Alonso & Pedro that is), especially if he needed/wanted that data(considering he’s Ron’s pet). This could be one reason for absence of mails implicating him(well, it’s a line of thought).

    However, you and i are not privy to what happens behind closed doors of McLaren(Hence we can only speculate). Am only trying to question/speculate, how much of this is engineered(ironic) by McLaren, to protect their golden boy, Hamilton and his public image. After all, he is a money spinning machine for the team McLaren. Quite a long term investment at that, which only started paying back from the beginning of this season past. Anything that puts Hamilton in a spot of bother, could only be bad news from McLaren’s perspective, or, isn’t it?

    All am trying to do, is trying to get people to ask questions/talk, about the dubious motives/moves of team McLaren throughout the year.

  19. Well this spygate is never going to rest no matter what the result of mclarens appeal – but sri – you should relax a bit more and speculate less – I wasn’t there – you weren’t there and only the members who sat during the original trial/appeal -of spygate that is are able to say why they didnt deduct points or call Lewis to testify – perhaps the e’ms between his team – mates were in spanish and he can’t read spanish??

  20. That’s an interesting point Alan I hadn’t thought what language the emails might be in.

  21. Well – I never imagined that I would see the day when monolinguism was an advantage. Apparently I just have…

    Returning to the point that several people have been making about McLaren using the wrong method if their intention is simply clarification. The problem is that those methods have already been tried. This rule is not new. There have been, by the sound of it, informal clarifications aplenty before now – hence why McLaren had enough information to be able to get this appeal opened in the first place.

    By putting the whole thing through a court case, something may get written down which will allow everyone to sing from the same hymn sheet. The other methods haven’t worked in this regard, which is why McLaren are having to use the same route to clarify a rule as they would take to make Hamilton champion. This simply illustrates why the practise of sending innumerable “clarifications” is no longer an option for F1 – if even the powers-that-be cannot figure out how to interpret them, they become documents of confusion instead.

    I don’t agree with the McLaren lawyer’s reading of precedent, but that’s a separate issue relating to the usual penalty for fuel irregularities (and would open another can of worms). The facts suggest that a procedural error has occured. Whether this error leads to the BMW and Williams cars being made illegal, or indeed whether anyone is promoted, is another question entirely.

  22. They expected the verdict on Thursday. It’s now 2pm GMT on Friday.

    Are they thinking the unthinkable?

  23. It is very interesting..

    Even if FIA says no change in championship winner, you cannot attribute that to the “clever” argument of Ferrari’s lawyers. Here’s why.

    Ferrari argues that Hamilton himself said that he did not want to win the title this way. So, the decision of FIA will be interpreted: We, in normal circumstances, would have given the title to him under the regulation, however since he did not want it, we will let Kimi take it. How sad will that be?

  24. I think they’re just taking a long time to find a way to disqualify the BMW’s/Williams (which they probably have to or risk setting some sort of precedent of teams all running extremely cool fuel), but not give Hamilton the title, deserved or not.

    Either that or the lawyers are being extremely verbose.

  25. Or they are just trying to make it look like they really thought about it. In any case, it is interesting that they take this long to make it public…

  26. One website is ‘unofficially’ reporting that the appeal has been rejected:

    Pitpass: Court of Appeal rejects McLaren claim (external)

  27. And boy, there is a lot of Internet traffic going in Pitpass’ direction right now. :)

    Anyway, I’m inclined to believe this. As far as I can recall, they have been right on the mark when it comes to using insider sources in news.

  28. Prehaps they’re trying to find a way to not only disqualify Williams & BMW, but Hamilton too. That way Alonso is champ…….

  29. Good news, cause in my book that makes Mclarens the biggest losers of 2007 in more ways than 1!

  30. OR, did they initially throw the case out, but when Bernie said he’d quit if the case was upheld they suddenly thought they’d found a way to get rid of the little nit…

  31. Hey, Keith, what has been the most commented topic for this year on your lovely site?

    Need I ask?

  32. Pretty much unsurprising, although what a range of opinions, hopefully hot topic next year will be great races filled with lots of talking points.
    No politics, no spying and no FIA Appeals of any kind.
    Does the FIA gather the teams at the start of the year and clarify the rule book, the way they used to hold driver breifings before each race?

  33. So, are they going to announce the verdict at 11.59 PM? I would like to see them locked up in room and discussing, otherwise, why are they delaying the press release?

  34. Still nothing… how very odd.

    It’s tempting to speculate the delay is because they’ve concluded they ought to disqualify BMW/Williams and are now desperately trying to find a way of doing it without handing Hamilton the title.

    Either that, or Ron Dennis is holding someone’s head down the toilet until the verdict goes his way.

    One thing I do agree with McLaren on, though – this OUGHT to be decided without reference to what’s at stake in the WDC. They ought to decide in exactly the way they would have had this appeal followed the first race of the season.

  35. Is this some sort of publicity stunt? How long can it be dragged out? Surely this whole thing is not as cut and dried as Max and Bernie would have said.

  36. Maybe they’re hoping everyone would just forget about it.

    I know I would.

  37. BBC are saying that Mclaren lost appeal too

  38. Yee haaa justice !

    Its on FIA site too

  39. Justice for Kimi/Ferrari perhaps…but can we not reasonably expect now that all teams will turn up in Melbourne with fuel outside the regulations on the basis that “it’s a bit tricky to measure”? I didn’t expect the WDC to change. But I did expect BMW/Williams to get some sort of punishment.

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