Formula 1 World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton has failed in his bid to see the penalty that cost him victory in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps overturned – after the FIA today ruled his and McLaren-Mercedes' appeal 'inadmissible'.
The British star took the chequered flag first on the road after getting the better of Ferrari rival Kimi Raikkonen in a thrilling late-race scrap in the Ardennes, but he was subsequently demoted back to third place when FIA stewards deemed he had gained an advantage in passing the Finn by cutting across the grass at the Bus-Stop chicane at the end of lap 42 of 44.
Though, under instruction from his team, Hamilton relinquished the lead once again, stewards agreed that his subsequent sling-shot past the scarlet machine into La Source only a matter of seconds later had been aided by his off-piste trajectory, consequently handing the 23-year-old a 25-second penalty and gifting the win to Raikkonen's Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa.
McLaren took their case to the FIA Court of Appeal, which listened to the arguments of both the Woking-based outfit and the Scuderia
yesterday (Monday) before announcing its verdict today. Following the hearing in Paris, an official FIA statement read:
'At the Grand Prix of Belgium, run on 7 September 2008, and counting towards the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, the stewards of the meeting imposed a drive-through penalty upon the driver of car No. 22, Lewis Hamilton, for a breach of Article 30.3 (a) of the 2008 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations and Appendix L, Chapter 4, Article 2 (g) of the International Sporting Code.
'As the drive-through penalty was imposed at the end of the race, 25 seconds were added to the driver's elapsed race time in accordance with Article 16.3 of the FIA 2008 Formula One Sporting Regulations.
'Article 152 of the International Sporting Code states that drive-through penalties are 'not susceptible to appeal'.
'The competitor Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes appealed the stewards' decision before the International Court of Appeal in a hearing in Paris on September 22nd.
'Having heard the explanations of the parties, the court has concluded that the appeal is inadmissible.'
According to Article 16.3, the stewards can choose to penalise a driver involved in an incident either through a drive-through penalty, a ten-second stop-and-go or a drop of ten grid positions at the following event.
'However, should either of the penalties…be imposed during the last five laps, or after the end of a race,' the statement noted, 'Article 16.4 (b) will not apply and 25 seconds will be added to the elapsed race time of the driver concerned.