Raikkonen to keep Formula One title

Formula One's governing body rejected McLaren's appeal to penalize four drivers for fuel irregularities at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.

updated: November 18, 2007 18:45 IST
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Formula One's governing body rejected McLaren's appeal to penalize four drivers for fuel irregularities at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, letting Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen keep his world championship title.

The FIA's court of appeal ruled on Friday that the appeal was inadmissible and that it could not punish BMW and Williams, whose drivers finished fourth, fifth, sixth and 10th in Sao Paulo on October 21.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton finished seventh in the race, and would have taken the drivers' title if two of the three drivers who finished ahead of him had been disqualified.

"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," FIA's International Court of Appeal said in a statement.

Hamilton finished second in the overall standings, one point behind Raikkonen, who won the Brazilian GP.

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was third overall, also one point behind Raikkonen but with fewer second-place finishes than Hamilton.

"Despite the fact that the FIA's Steward, Tony Scott Andrews, accepted McLaren's appeal when it was presented to him after the race in the Interlagos paddock, the FIA International Court of Appeal has decided that the appeal was not admissible," the McLaren team said in a statement.

"This was despite the Stewards making the official results subject to our appeal."

Hamilton added in the same statement that Raikkonen is a worthy champion.

"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," Hamilton said.

"That was not the purpose of the team's appeal. I am looking forward to the 2008 season and racing Kimi, and all my other rivals, on track and hopefully be able to go one better than the second place I achieved in this year's World Drivers Championship."

Ferrari welcomed the decision.

"Today, a final and desperate attempt to change the result obtained on the track was rejected," Ferrari CEO Jean Todt was quoted as saying in a Ferrari statement. "Now all our efforts are focused on preparing for next season."

Both Hamilton and Alonso have said they didn't want the title to be decided by a court.

The appeal came after the four drivers were investigated immediately following the race in Sao Paulo for having fuel temperatures that violated regulations, but the Brazil stewards said there was not enough evidence to penalize any of them.

McLaren lawyer Ian Mill had been adamant that an infringement had taken place.

"It's clear the infringement of this rule did have a performance-enhancing effect. If you put in cool fuel it increases the horse power," Mill said prior to the hearing.

"The principle is clear: if there was a performance enhancement, there was a breach and there has to be a disqualification," Mill said.

Alonso left McLaren earlier this month after a stormy first season with the British team in which he clashed with management and Hamilton.

The court hearing started in London on Thursday because of transit strikes in France, but was moved to Paris on Friday.

"Williams today welcomed the findings of the FIA's International Court of Appeal," the team said in a statment.

The statement said the outcome of the hearing means that the Steward's decision in Brazil in relation to this matter remains in force and valid.