PARIS – 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 said Friday there was not enough evidence to punish BMW and Williams, whose drivers finished fourth, fifth, sixth and 10th on Oct. 21 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 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.
Hamilton finished in second place in the overall standings, one point behind Raikkonen.
“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.
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was third overall, also one point behind Raikkonen but with fewer second-place finishes than Hamilton.
Hamilton and Alonso 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 them.
“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 Steward’s making the official results subject to our appeal.”
McLaren lawyer Ian Mill was adamant about an infringement.
“It’s clear the infringement of this rule did have a performance-enhancing effect. If you put in cool fuel it increases the horsepower,” Mill said before the hearing. “The principle is clear: If there was a performance enhancement, there was a breach and there has to be a disqualification.”
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.