McLaren press ahead with appeal

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> McLaren confirmed on Monday that it would appeal FIA's decision not to penalize four drivers investigated for fuel irregularities.

Updated: October 24, 2007 14:53 IST
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Sao Paulo, Brazil:

Kimi Raikkonen will keep the Formula One drivers' title - for now.

McLaren confirmed on Monday that it would appeal FIA's decision not to penalize four drivers investigated for fuel irregularities following the Brazilian Grand Prix.

"We will lodge an appeal," McLaren head of media communications Ellen Kolby said in an email.

The ruling by the sport's governing body maintained Lewis Hamilton as the seventh-place finisher in Sunday's race, two spots less than he needed to win the title.

After the race, FIA opened an investigation into possible fuel irregularities involving BMW-Sauber and Williams, whose drivers finished fourth, fifth, sixth and 10th in the race. If at least two of the three ahead of him were punished, Hamilton would have taken the title from Raikkonen.

But in a decision more than six hours after the end of the race, FIA said there was not enough evidence to penalize the drivers or the teams.

"We were surprised at, and don't really understand the stewards' decision," McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh told the British Press Association. "We feel if we had not lodged our intention to appeal we would surely have been criticized by fans and Formula One insiders alike for not supporting our drivers' best interests."

He stressed the appeal was not an attack on Ferrari.

"Our quarrel, if you can call it that, is not with Ferrari or Kimi Raikkonen," he said. "On the contrary, Kimi won the race fair and square, and Ferrari did a good job to finish first and second. Our argument is with the stewards' decision in relation to the cars of (Nico) Rosberg, (Robert) Kubica and (Nick) Heidfeld."

The fuel temperatures on the cars of fourth-place Rosberg of Williams, fifth-place Kubica of BMW-Sauber, sixth-place teammate Heidfeld and Williams' Kazuki Nakajima were as much as 14 degrees Celsius (57 degrees Fahrenheit) below the air temperature, FIA said.

Raikkonen won the Brazilian GP, edging Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso of McLaren to win the drivers' championship by one point.

Hamilton, trying to become the first rookie to win the title and Formula One's youngest champion, went off the track on the first lap and couldn't recover from a subsequent gearbox problem.

He needed a top-two finish at the season-ending race to guarantee the title without depending on other drivers.

It wasn't the first time fuel irregularities could have affected the Brazilian GP. In 1995, Williams and Benetton were docked constructors' points after failing inspections. Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard initially lost their points, too, but FIA later reviewed its decision and gave the points back.

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