McLaren appeal rejected, Raikkonen title secure

McLaren's appeal against the decision of the Interlagos stewards to not penalize Williams and BMW Sauber was rejected by the International Court of Appeal, which confirms Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen as the 2007 world champion. The Court met in London on November 15th and the verdict that McLaren's appeal was inadmissible and no penalty would be imposed on Williams and BMW was announced on the 16th.

Kimi Raikkonen, Scuderia Ferrari, F2007 and Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes, MP4-22.
Photo by

At the Brazilian Grand Prix the cars of those two teams were found to have fuel irregularities after the race. The stewards decided that punishment was inappropriate as discrepancies in the data provided meant accurate comparisons between the temperature of the fuel in the cars and the ambient temperature could not be established.

Two days later McLaren notified the FIA of its intention to appeal the decision, saying it was seeking clarification of the rules. However, if Williams and BMW were excluded from the race results it could have meant that Lewis Hamilton was promoted from seventh place to fourth, thus giving him enough points to take the title.

McLaren claimed that gaining Hamilton the championship was not its intent, although in the hearing the team's lawyer urged the Court to disqualify Williams and BMW and their drivers. The two teams argued that McLaren's appeal should be inadmissible as McLaren was not involved the original inquiry and did not protest the race result at the time, although McLaren says it did.

Ferrari's representative said it would be a "serious injustice" if the title was taken away from Raikkonen and underlined McLaren's own often-quoted belief that "the championship should be decided on the racetrack and not in the courtroom."

Eventually the verdict was delivered. "Having heard the explanations of both parties and having examined the various documents and other evidence, the Court decided that the appeal lodged by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is inadmissible," said a statement from the FIA on Friday.

In a statement of its own, McLaren reiterated its claim that it had acted only for for clarification purposes. "In the interests of rule clarification and rule consistency we lodged our appeal," said CEO Martin Whitmarsh. "We have not yet seen the text of the FIA International Court of Appeal decision and hope that clarification is provided."

Raikkonen won the title by a single point from Hamilton and teammate Fernando Alonso. Hamilton had been on course to become the first rookie champion until an error and then a car problem dropped him towards the back of the field at Interlagos. Hamilton himself said it would be wrong to take the championship away from Raikkonen.

"As I have said all along, Kimi deserved to win the 2007 World Drivers' Championship, and neither I nor anyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes had any desire to take it off him in court," he commented in McLaren's statement. "That was not the purpose of the team's appeal."

Ferrari said it was "completely satisfied" with the ruling. "The decision of the ICA finally brings to an end a very intense season, both on and off the track," said Jean Todt. "Today, a final and desperate attempt to change the result obtained on the track was rejected. Now, all our efforts are focused on preparing for next season."