It's not over until the fat lady sings, as they say, or in F1's case it's not over until there's been a meeting. There are not many people out there who would begrudge Kimi Raikkonen the 2007 drivers' title and the Finn won it fair and square on track when his Ferrari took the chequered flag at Interlagos. That should have been the end of it but, of course, this is F1 so it isn't.
If the drivers' championship is decided in a meeting it will make a mockery of the sport, which is teetering on the brink of ridicule. We've already had one title decided off track this season and if the other goes the same way what on earth was the point of anyone even bothering to race? Will that be the precedent for the future; that it doesn't matter who wins because it will be decided by an appeal anyway?
It's no surprise that McLaren has appealed the decision of the Interlagos stewards not to punish BMW Sauber and Williams for fuel regulation infringements. After all, given the political atmosphere of F1 this year, the stewards were just asking for trouble by not doing anything. The matter does need to be clarified but considering the crticism McLaren is facing, is it doing more harm than good?
There has been a lot of debate about whether this title would be tainted if one of the McLaren drivers won it, due to the spy scandal. Some say yes and some say no but if Lewis Hamilton gets handed the championship on appeal, it won't be a genuine victory. Hamilton says he doesn't want to win it that way but he's hardly going to turn it down if that is what happens. What driver would?
McLaren claims that it had "no choice" but to make the appeal, because if it didn't it would be criticized for not supporting its drivers' best interests. Given that Fernando Alonso was in front of BMW and Williams it's not going to make any difference to him if they get punished, so it would seem that Hamilton being elevated in the points, and therefore to the title, is the aim. But how is an empty victory in Hamilton's best interests?
General opinion seems to be that McLaren are bad losers to be dragging this out; the team has already lost some credibility and respect this year and the appeal is just damning it further. And at the end of it, if we ever get an ending, an appeal might not help Hamilton anyway. He would not automatically be moved up the results if BMW and Williams are disqualified; that's at the discretion of the stewards.
If any action has to be taken one can only hope that common sense will prevail and see BMW and Williams given a punishment that would not affect the drivers' standings. After all, McLaren got thrown out of the championship but its drivers were not affected, so it would hardly seem right for other drivers to be penalized for something that was not of their doing.
Hamilton will win the title at some point but this time a combination of McLaren's mistakes and his own inexperience lost it. He should have been called in for new tyres quicker in China and it was unnecessary for him to challenge Alonso at Interlagos because he could have won the title from fourth -- and reportedly the car problem was due to him pressing the wrong button on the steering wheel.
Detractors claim that Raikkonen won the title because Felipe Massa gifted him the Brazil win, or because McLaren screwed up, or any other trivial point but that's just arguing for argument's sake. Raikkonen worked just as hard as anyone for this; he kept his cool, didn't bitch about his team or his teammate, won some great races and against all odds he fought back to claim the crown.
If that is changed by a decision made in a meeting after the season is over it will be disgraceful. 2007 has been overshadowed by politics and arguing, ill-feeling and tension but to end it with victory on track and a long-awaited new champion went a long way to repairing some of the damage. Raikkonen winning was, arguably, the best possible outcome there could be.
If Hamilton or Alonso had taken the title there would always be the question of the alleged car advantage due to Ferrari data. No matter what one personally thinks, that question will never go away simply because some people won't let it. For every Hamilton/Alonso fan that would have enjoyed him winning, there would be a detractor saying something like "he only won because he was driving a McFerrari".
The only "controversy" over Raikkonen is that he doesn't say much -- although that was somewhat belied in the Brazil post-race press conference when, comparatively, he burbled fit to bust for ages. Everyone will have their own opinion on who deserved to win this championship but one thing is for sure: Raikkonen doesn't deserve to have it taken away from him.