With the British media, and the Formula One world in general, not quite able to believe the dramatic post-race goings-on at Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, one of the officials at the centre of the controversy has denied claims that 'it was personal'.

Lewis Hamilton appeared to have strengthened his lead in the Formula One world championship with another display of his wet-weather ability, having seen of long-time leader Kimi Raikkonen in increasingly tricky conditions at Spa-Francorchamps, but, long after the world champion had found the wall and Hamilton had sprayed the champagne, the stewards took the decision to penalise the Briton for cutting the Bus Stop chicane.

The 'moment' came in the heat of battle with Raikkonen, when Hamilton's attempt to find a way past at the penultimate corner ended with him over-shooting and cutting across the 'infield'. Coming out ahead of the Ferrari, Hamilton backed off to hand the lead back to his rival, before then diving to the inside at La Source and claiming top spot with what he - as well as the team and, apparently, race control - thought was a legitimate move.

Although there was no protest from Ferrari, the result was called into question as soon as the McLaren crossed the finishing line and, hours after the chequered flag had fallen, Hamilton was duly penalised 25 seconds, which dropped him to third overall, stripping him of his fifth win of the year and slashing his championship advantage to just two points as main rival Felipe Massa inherited top spot.

The British press naturally claimed 'foul', while others in the sport expressed their incredulity at the decision, but Surinder Thathi, one of the three stewards in charge at Spa denied that there was anything in the decision that harked back to last year's dispute between the FIA and McLaren.

"There was no conspiracy against anybody, McLaren included," the Kenyan stressed to Reuters, "We acted professionally and within the FIA rules. Hamilton took a short cut inside of the corner while off the track.

"We had a choice to mete out a time penalty or ten grid places a the next grand prix, and we opted for the former and handed down a time penalty of 25 seconds. I know I am a very unpopular person in the United Kingdom now, but I was doing my job and I know I acted professionally."

McLaren has since launched an appeal against the decision, claiming that it had been told by race control that Hamilton's actions in backing off on the start-finish straight and then making a move on Raikkonen at La Source were sufficient to counter the short-cut.