McLaren fined for regulation breach

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> McLaren was fined euro15,000 by FIA officials for using an extra wet tires on Hamilton's car in Friday's practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Updated: October 22, 2007 18:18 IST
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Sao Paulo:

McLaren was fined euro15,000 by FIA officials for using an extra set of wet tires on Lewis Hamilton's car in Friday's practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The British rookie was one of the three drivers whose team committed the infraction during the first free practice session in Interlagos in breach of Formula One regulations.

The other drivers were Honda's Jenson Button and Super Aguri's Takuma Sato, and the their teams also will have to pay the fine, FIA said in a statement.

The drivers were not punished, but they won't be able to use the extra set of tires for the remainder of the weekend, FIA said.

FIA officials met for hours to decide on the drivers' penalty. The governing body met separately with the three drivers and a representative from each of the teams.

Sanctions for similar infractions have included dropping the drivers 10 positions on the race's starting grid.

McLaren chief Ron Dennis admitted it was a "mistake and clearly a breach" of regulations, but said the team did not gain any advantage from it.

"Today has not been perfect for us as we made a mistake in this morning's session and used one set of tires too many on Lewis' car," Dennis said. "This was unfortunate and clearly did not provide any advantage."

Hamilton's teammate Fernando Alonso said he wasn't too familiar with the regulation himself.

"I don't think we were totally aware of this rule," Alonso said. "I probably would have done the same thing."

FIA said the three drivers were in breach of a regulation that states that "no driver may use more than one set of wet and one set of extreme-weather tires during" the free practice sessions.

Hamilton enters the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix with a four-point advantage over Alonso, and a seven-point lead over Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, the only other driver in contention. It is the tightest race for Formula One's title in 21 years.

Hamilton, who had never raced at the 4.3-kilometer (2.6-mile) track, was the fastest driver after Friday's practice sessions with a time of 1 minute, 12.767 seconds, .122 of a second faster than Alonso in second and .345 of a second quicker than Raikkonen in fourth. Felipe Massa, last year's Brazilian GP winner with Ferrari, was third.

Hamilton had been the fifth fastest under wet conditions in the morning session, when the infraction occurred.

A top-two finish for Hamilton on Sunday will make him the first rookie to win the title and the youngest champion ever in Formula One.

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