Hamilton makes his case as McLaren appeal

Updated: 16 September 2008 08:59 IST

After the McLaren driver was penalised 25 seconds for an allegedly illegal overtake, his team have appealed against the decision.


Lewis Hamilton's McLaren team confirmed on Tuesday they were appealing against the controversial decision of to strip the British Formula One driver of his victory in last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

Hamilton won Sunday's race after a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle with defending world champion Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari.

But he was retrospectively given a 25-second drive-through penalty which dropped him to third place for allegedly gaining an advantage by cutting out the Bus Stop chicane at the Spa-Francorchamps track during his duel with Finland's Raikkonen in teeming rain in the closing laps.

It handed victory to Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari who had struggled home second after Raikkonen had crashed with one lap remaining.

The verdict left Hamilton with just a six point lead at the top of the drivers' world championship standings heading into the final five races of the season, starting with this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

In a statement, British team McLaren said, "Following our decision to register our intention to appeal the penalty handed out to Lewis Hamilton by the FIA (International Automobile Federation) stewards at the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix, we hereby confirm that we have now lodged notice of appeal."

McLaren's statement also saw Hamilton give his first detailed explanation of the incident.

"I managed to get slightly ahead of him in the braking area for the first apex of the chicane. He fought back approaching the second apex - but, in doing so, he left no room for me on the inside line. The only way for me to avoid a collision was therefore to cut inside the second apex."

Hamilton, 23, added, "I came out of the second apex in front of Kimi and so I momentarily lifted-off on the straight, to ensure that Kimi got back in front. The team also came on the radio and instructed me to allow Kimi to repass, which I had already done.

"As a result, Kimi crossed the start/finish line ahead of me and 6.7km/h quicker than me.

"After allowing Kimi to completely repass, I crossed from the left side of the track to the right side of the track, passing behind Kimi in the process. I then attacked Kimi on the inside of the first corner, and successfully outbraked him."

McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh added, "From the pit wall, we then asked Race Control to confirm that they were comfortable that Lewis had allowed Kimi to repass, and they confirmed twice that they believed that the position had been given back in a manner that was 'okay'."

But McLaren's arguments may count for nothing as Article 152 of the FIA's international sporting code states that a drive-through penalty is "not susceptible to appeal".

Motor racing great Niki Lauda, a three-times world champion and former Ferrari driver, said stripping Hamilton of victory was "the worst judgment in the history of F1".

The decision was the fifth time this year Hamilton, who nearly won the world championship in his rookie season in 2007, had been penalised at a Grand Prix and came a year after McLaren were hit with a 100 million dollars fine for allegedly spying on Italian rivals Ferrari.

It led to fresh accusations the FIA were biased in favour of Ferrari and against McLaren but Kenya's Surinder Thatti, one of the Spa stewards who penalised Hamilton, said, "There was no conspiracy against anybody, McLaren included. We acted professionally and within the FIA rules."

Topics : Formula 1 Lewis Hamilton
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