McLaren have confirmed, after much discussion, that they have now lodged an appeal with the FIA over the decision to penalise Lewis Hamilton with a post-race drive-thru following the Belgian Grand Prix. The penalty, which followed an on-track skirmish between the McLaren driver and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, has left many fans feeling annoyed at the steward’s inconsistency and of course, the actually ambiguity of the incident itself.
Following our decision to register our intention to appeal the penalty handed out to Lewis Hamilton by the FIA Stewards at the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix, we hereby confirm that we have now lodged notice of appeal. 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 ‘OK’. If Race Control had instead expressed any concern regarding Lewis’s actions at that time, we would have instructed Lewis to allow Kimi to repass for a second time. Martin Whitmarsh.
McLaren are annoyed because they felt they had done everything to comply with the rules, and even spoke to Race Director Charlie Whiting for his opinion. Unfortunately for the team, Whiting can only offer his opinion, for his role is not to adjudicate the actual incident. However, Charlie’s opinion is worth respecting, and the fact that McLaren sought advice implies they were trying to play fair in the battle with Kimi Raikkonen.
Lewis Hamilton also gave his side of the story, saying that he felt he had satisfactorily handed the position back to Raikkonen, even before the team had made their request via the radio.
In the closing stages of the race I was catching Kimi consistently, lap by lap, and with three laps remaining I got close enough to attempt to overtake him on the entry to the last chicane. 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. 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. Lewis Hamilton.
The FIA will now schedule a meeting where those involved will be given chance to speak, and any new evidence will be assessed. However, it isn’t uncommon for the FIA, should the penalty stand, to hand out a larger punishment, possibly docking McLaren and/or Lewis Hamilton championship points. Although given the backlash the stewards have received through the worldwide media and from the fans, I suspect that if the hearing falls to Ferrari’s favour, a monetary punishment might be handed out instead. Of course, these are just my thoughts, but this issue looks set to run and run, once again blurring and tarnishing what so far, has been a vintage year for Formula One.[poll id=”23″]