F1: McLaren’s Belgian GP appeal date is set

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarFriday, September 12th, 2008

 
 

The date has been set for the FIA’s International Court of Appeal to hear McLaren’s case for reinstating Lewis Hamilton’s Belgian Grand Prix victory.

It is variously reported as Sunday September 28 or Monday September 29 – either way, right in the run-up to the Singapore Grand Prix. The verdict is not expected until the following day.

However, the setting of a date does not mean that the principle of an appeal against a drive-through penalty has been accepted, and the whole thing could still be dismissed on a technicality.

Meanwhile, race director Charlie Whiting has issued a clarification to drivers about the rules on chicane-cutting in the briefing for the Italian Grand Prix.

He has reportedly told them that, under circumstances where an unfair advantage has been gained and the place handed back, they should wait at least one corner before trying another attack.

The news has been welcomed by Red Bull’s Mark Webber. He told Autosport.com: “We are still trying to find a solution for the second chicane here, because we still think there is a way to roll through there.

“But generally, it is pretty clear for people to probably not attack immediately again, which wasn’t mega, mega clear in the past.”

In his column for ITV.com, Webber’s team-mate David Coulthard said: “The problem is that it’s very difficult to pin down what constitutes gaining (or handing back) an advantage, other than the obvious visual test of whether or not a position changes hands.

“By that standard, Lewis did gain an unfair advantage, but only temporarily, and he quickly rectified the situation.

“He gained an advantage in the first place because he missed out the Bus Stop chicane and came out ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Simple as that. Clearly Kimi took a defensive line into the corner, making Lewis go the long way around — but that was his right as the lead car, and he did nothing unfair…

“But having made a mistake and gained an advantage, Lewis clearly then backed off on the straight and allowed Kimi back through into the lead.

“He did everything that I understand the rules to require, in that if you gain advantage by missing a corner, you allow the car that you overtook to retake its position and then you can set about trying to overtake it again.

“However, as this verdict has shown, how quickly you can start that process again is a grey area. Presumably the stewards concluded that if Lewis hadn’t cut the corner, but lifted off and followed the Ferrari through, he wouldn’t have had the momentum to be as close as he was along the start/finish straight, and therefore wouldn’t have been in a position to make an outbraking move at La Source.

“Inevitably that is partly conjecture, because factors like the slippery track surface and the relative pace of the two cars in the wet complicate the picture and make comparisons with previous laps difficult.

“For the same reason, McLaren’s evidence that Hamilton was travelling 6km/h slower than Raikkonen across the start/finish line isn’t a clinching argument either.” Read the full piece here.

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