NASCAR & Auto Racing

McLaren appeals over fuel irregularities in hopes of getting Hamilton the F1 title

WOKING, England – McLaren filed an appeal Tuesday in an effort to get four drivers disqualified from last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix and give the Formula One title to British rookie Lewis Hamilton.

The four drivers were investigated for fuel irregularities following Sunday’s race, but governing body FIA said several hours later that there was not enough evidence to penalize them.

Hamilton, who had been leading the drivers’ standings before the final race of the season, finished seventh and wound up in second place overall, one point behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

After Sunday’s race, FIA opened an investigation into possible fuel irregularities involving BMW-Sauber and Williams, whose drivers finished fourth, fifth, sixth and 10th in the race.

Three of the four drivers that were investigated finished ahead of Hamilton. If two of them were disqualified, Hamilton would move up and claim the title ahead of Raikkonen.

McLaren took its case Tuesday to FIA’s International Court of Appeal.

“The team wishes to win races and championships on the track. However, if there has been an irregularity, which is not the fault of the team, we feel that the matter must be properly examined to ensure that the rules are applied,” McLaren said in a statement on its Web site.

The fuel temperatures in question were among the cars of fourth-place Nico Rosberg, fifth-place Robert Kubica, sixth-place Nick Heidfeld and 10th-place Kazuki Nakajima, FIA said.

The 22-year-old Hamilton, who was aiming to be the first rookie and youngest to win the F1 title, said before the appeal he would rather win on the track.

“To have the world title taken away is a bit cruel and probably not good for the sport,” Hamilton told BBC Radio. “It would feel weird after Kimi did such a fantastic job in the last two races and won on Sunday.

“I want to win it on the track. You want to do it in style, you want to win the race or (be) battling it out for the lead. Being promoted after other people have been thrown out is not the way I want to do it.”

McLaren said “The team does not understand the justification as described in the decision published late on Sunday evening.”

Rosberg and Nakajima drive for Williams, and Kubica and Heidfeld compete for BMW-Sauber.

“Vodafone McLaren Mercedes wishes to stress, however, that it does not question the integrity of either the BMW or Williams teams,” the statement said. “We know, without even inquiring, that neither team would have sought to achieve a performance advantage by such an irregularity and that the situation could only have arisen as the consequence of an operational error within the team on the day.”

FIA said it had been notified of the appeal. No date was announced for the hearing.

“Ultimately we feel that the FIA should determine whether an irregularity occurred or not, and the team will fully respect the process and any decision that is ultimately given,” McLaren said.