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Page last updated at 14:18 GMT, Tuesday, 23 September 2008 15:18 UK

McLaren lose appeal over Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton
We're racers, we're naturally competitive and we love to overtake - overtaking is difficult, and it feels great when you manage to pull off a great passing manoeuvre

Lewis Hamilton

McLaren's appeal against Lewis Hamilton's 25-second penalty at the Belgian Grand Prix has been rejected.

The English driver was demoted from first to third after the Spa race, with Felipe Massa handed the victory.

Hamilton, 23, pressed his case at Monday's appeal to governing body FIA as he tried to overturn his punishment for cutting a chicane on 7 September.

But the appeal was ruled inadmissible, leaving him just one point clear in the Formula One world title race.

Five judges sat in Paris and their decision means Hamilton's four-point deduction stands,

If successful, Hamilton would have seen his lead increase over Ferrari's Massa to seven points.

However, had the appeal been heard and the judges found against him, it is possible the penalty could have increased.

"Article 152 of the International Sporting Code states that drive-through penalties are 'not susceptible to appeal'," the FIA said in a statement.

"Having heard the explanations of the parties, the court has concluded that the appeal is inadmissible."

After Tuesday's verdict, Hamilton said: "People will probably expect me to be depressed about today's result, but that isn't me.

"All I want to do now is put this matter behind me and get on with what we drivers do best: racing each other.

"We're racers, we're naturally competitive and we love to overtake. Overtaking is difficult, and it feels great when you manage to pull off a great passing manoeuvre.

"If it pleases the spectators and TV viewers, it's better still. So I'm disappointed, yes, but not depressed."

Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton
The incident between Raikkonen (front) and Hamilton occurred at Spa

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren's chief operating officer, added: "We are naturally disappointed with today's verdict, and to have received no ruling on the substance of our appeal.

"No-one wants to win Grands Prix in court; but we felt that Lewis had won the Belgian Grand Prix, on track, in an exciting and impressive manner.

"Our legal team and witnesses calmly explained this, as well as our belief that the appeal should be admissible, to the FIA International Court of Appeal.

"It nonetheless decided that our appeal was inadmissible. We will now concentrate on the remaining four races of the 2008 Formula 1 season."

The appeal court judges were faced with two decisions.

They first had to consider whether McLaren's appeal was admissible, as Formula One rules do not allow teams to appeal against drive-through penalties.

The penalty given to Hamilton was technically a drive-through penalty.

However, as it was issued retrospectively McLaren barrister Mark Philips QC had argued that no actual drive-through took place, so the appeal should be considered.

Secondly, the judges had to decide if Hamilton sufficiently surrendered the advantage he had gained when cutting the chicane.

606: DEBATE
hermanbrewer

The Englishman was battling with Massa's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen at the Spa circuit when he cut the Bus Stop chicane, resulting in him overtaking the Finnish driver.

Despite allowing Raikkonen to immediately reclaim the lead, Hamilton then overtook the Ferrari driver at the next corner to go back in front.

As video footage of the incident was shown, Hamilton told the court he was trying to avoid crashing into Raikkonen.

"We had a great battle and there was no need to take stupid risks, so I had to cut the chicane," he said.

"I've since studied the footage about 10 times and I can remember it vividly like it was yesterday.

"I believe I then gave the advantage back. I honestly, hand on heart, feel I did so."

However, fellow F1 star Mark Webber told the BBC other drivers would have handled the situation differently.

"I think most guys would have thought it was a little bit cheeky to attack (Raikkonen) again in that way," said Webber.

"I would have done it differently, and Lewis was in such a fantastic position in that race that he probably could have picked Kimi up somewhere else. Easier said than done, of course.

"The penalty was pretty hard but unfortunately it was in the last few laps of the race, so there was less time to negotiate and less time for a drivethrough or something else."

Whitmarsh told reporters he believed the judges were "confident of our facts" following the hearing.

"Based on the evidence we saw at the time, and from subsequent analysis, we believe any advantage was ceded," he added.

"Therefore it's even more reason to get those points back."

Hamilton has since left France for Singapore ahead of Sunday's first ever night race.


see also
The right ruling on Hamilton?
23 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton eyes error-free run-in
15 Sep 08 |  Formula One
McLaren discover date for appeal
12 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton finds little support
11 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton passed too soon - Massa
09 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton stripped of Belgian win
07 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton feeling heat of F1 fight
18 Jun 08 |  Formula One


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