McLaren lawyer seeks title for Hamilton
By Alan BaldwinThursday, November 15th 2007, 12:23 GMT
A lawyer for McLaren called on Thursday for Lewis Hamilton to be handed the points that would make the Briton, and not Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, this year's Formula One world champion.
Barrister Ian Mill told an FIA international appeal court hearing that the BMW Sauber and Williams cars that finished ahead of Hamilton in last month's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix broke the rules on fuel temperature and gained an advantage from the breach.
If the three drivers involved are disqualified, Hamilton could move up from seventh in the race to fourth - handing the 22-year-old British rookie the points needed to overhaul Raikkonen.
However, the stewards do not have to move Hamilton up the race order and the driver has said he wanted to win the title on the track and not in a courtroom.
Finland's Raikkonen beat Hamilton by a single point at the end of the 17 race season.
"The principle is clear," said Mill. "If there was a breach, it was performance-enhancing. The sanction, I'm afraid, has to be disqualification."
The lawyer urged the four independent judges, who are expected to publish a judgment on Friday, not to be influenced by the fact that the title could be at stake.
"I ask you to address this as though it was any team at any stage of the season," he said.
"Whenever in the past there has been a disqualification, there has been a re-classification... All we ask you to do is what normally happens."
The appeal, made on behalf of McLaren by the British governing body, was against a stewards' decision not to sanction BMW Sauber and Williams at Interlagos despite readings suggesting their fuel was cooler than the rules allow.
The stewards ruled that there were "considerable discrepancies" in the data.
McLaren were fined $100 million and stripped of all their constructors' points in September in a spying controversy involving Ferrari.
The governing body ruled at that time, however, that the McLaren drivers should keep their points because of an amnesty offered to them if they provided evidence, despite strong arguments against them remaining in the championship.
Mill used that same argument against McLaren's rivals.
"The driver may be entirely innocent...but he has the benefit of the infringing car," he said.
"It must be right that if the team is disqualified, the driver loses the points as well. In the other case, the drivers were offered immunity if they assisted the FIA."
Lawyers for the other teams involved had yet to present their cases.
The opening hour of the hearing was devoted to the issue of whether the appeal was admissible, with the judges from the United States, Greece, Portugal and Czech Republic still to rule on that.