The International Court of Appeal has rejected McLaren’s appeal over the cool-fuel saga that has embroiled the Brazilian Grand Prix and final championship results. The court met in London yesterday and today and heard from McLaren, whose argument was said to be more to do with the clarification of the rules rather than the actual championship itself. The saga centred around two teams – BMW and Williams – who were reported to have fuel on-board their cars that was outside the acceptable temperature range. Three of the four cars involved finished higher in the points order than Lewis Hamilton at the Brazilian Grand Prix, but initially no action was taken against the two teams. According to the FIA, the temperature readings could be proven to be accurate, thus it would have been incorrect to penalise the drivers. Had these drivers been penalised, Hamilton could have been promoted up the finishing order, and thus won the drivers title.
McLaren appealed the decision although they were adamant they were not looking to gain the drivers title by doing this. Lewis Hamilton even stated himself in Brazil that he didn’t want to win through the courts. Perhaps their lawyers missed the memo…
The principle is clear. If there was a breach, it was performance-enhancing. The sanction, I’m afraid, has to be disqualification. Ian Mill, McLaren Lawyer.
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. Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren CEO.
That was yesterday though, and today the words are a little different. The ICA have seen sense and not changed the result of the race, leaving the title securely with Kimi Raikkonen, and the final championship standings un-altered. While any controversy isn’t ideal for the sport (unless you own a newspaper or run a website) the decision made has to be correct. Maybe at the time it was incorrect, but to change a race result almost one month later would have been ridiculous.
Unfortunately though, one bad thing has come of all this. Bernie Ecclestone hinted earlier in the week, be it serious or in jest, that he would consider resigning if the results were changed.
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 5 degrees Celsius out. If anybody thinks that’s the best thing for Formula One, then I’d have a very serious thought about me retiring. Bernie Ecclestone.
Many had hoped that if Ecclestone walked away, FIA president Max Mosley might follow. Alas, I guess both are remaining in their positions.
And that was 2007. The season is finally over. I cannot think of any outstanding appeals, controversies or battles, so I guess it is finally done with now. Here’s to looking forward to 2008…