Mercedes Grand Prix has yet to decide whether to press ahead with its intention to appeal Michael Schumacher's contentious penalty during in last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix – as Damon Hill revealed that he has received 'hate mail' since being part of the stewarding board that meted out the punishment.
Schumacher was demoted from sixth position to twelfth in the glamorous Principality after his opportunistic last lap overtaking manoeuvre on Ferrari rival Fernando Alonso was deemed to have contravened Article 40.13 of the International Sporting Code – which stipulates that 'if the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit-lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking'.
A post-race addition of 20 seconds to his finishing time cost the seven-time F1 World Champion six places and eight points – and left many puzzled as to just what the German legend had done wrong [see separate story – click here
]. Mercedes immediately notified the FIA of its will to take the matter to the governing body's Court of Appeal, which needs to be formalised within 48 hours. A spokeswoman has confirmed that 'no decision has been taken as yet'.
“We believed that the track had gone green and the race was not finishing under a safety car, when Article 40.13 clearly would have applied,” argued the Brackley-based outfit's team principal Ross Brawn. “The reason for the safety car had been removed, the FIA had announced 'Safety car in this lap' early on lap 78 and the track had been declared clear by race control. This was further endorsed when the marshals showed green flags and lights after safety car line one.
“On previous occasions when it has been necessary to complete a race under a safety car, full-course yellows are maintained, as in Melbourne 2009. On the last lap, we therefore advised our drivers that they should race to the line and Michael made his move on Fernando for sixth place. We have appealed the decision of the stewards.”
Meanwhile, Hill has questioned the wisdom of appointing racing drivers as fully-fledged FIA stewards at grands prix, with the 1996 world champion revealing to British media that in the wake of the ruling, he has received 'stinging e-mails' claiming that he was prejudiced against Schumacher, given the pair's infamous rivalry and on-track clashes in 1994 and 1995.
The 49-year-old joined two regular stewards in Monaco, following in the footsteps of the likes of quadruple world champion Alain Prost, Johnny Herbert, Derek Warwick and Alex Wurz under an initiative pioneered by new FIA President Jean Todt.
“I was uncomfortable being put in that position of being a full FIA representative,” confessed the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Chairman, who acknowledged that Schumacher had a 'wry smile' on his face when he walked into the room and their eyes met. “My expertise is as a driver rather than a lawmaker or interpreter of regulations.
“Partly my discomfort was because I was called on to make a ruling on an incident involving Michael. I know most people will believe me when I say I acted entirely properly and correctly, but perhaps it might be more appropriate for drivers to act as consultants to the stewards rather than as stewards.”
'Schumi', however, insisted that he was satisfied Hill had acted appropriately, describing the 22-time grand prix-winner as 'a good guy'.
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