Formula 1 World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton has vowed not to be dissuaded from overtaking in the top flight, despite the FIA International Court of Appeal having today rejected his and McLaren-Mercedes' attempt to be re-instated as winners of the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix.
Following an eight-hour meeting at its Paris headquarters on Monday, the Court of Appeal announced that Woking-based outfit's appeal was 'inadmissible' [see separate story – click here
] – meaning Hamilton travels to Singapore this weekend holding an uncomfortable one-point margin over Ferrari rival Felipe Massa in the title standings, and with 40 remaining up for grabs between now and season's end.
“People will probably expect me to be depressed about today's result,” the 23-year-old acknowledged after the outcome, “but that isn't me. All I want to do now is put this matter behind me and get on with what we drivers do best – racing each other.
“We're racers, we're naturally competitive and we love to overtake. Overtaking is difficult, and it feels great when you manage to pull off a great passing manoeuvre. If it pleases the spectators and TV viewers, it's better still. I'm disappointed, yes, but not depressed.”
“We are naturally disappointed with today's verdict,” echoed McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh, “and to have received no ruling on the substance of our appeal. No one wants to win grands prix in court, but we felt that Lewis had won the Belgian Grand Prix, on-track, in an exciting and impressive manner.
“Our legal team and witnesses calmly explained this, as well as our belief that the appeal should be admissible, to the FIA International Court of Appeal. It nonetheless decided that our appeal was inadmissible. We will now concentrate on the remaining four races of the 2008 Formula 1 season.”
The verdict has generated further controversy after the Court of Appeal last year allowed a similar appeal by Scuderia Toro Rosso, following Vitantonio Liuzzi's 25-second post-race penalty for passing Force India's Adrian Sutil under waved yellow flags during the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji – an appeal that ultimately proved unsuccessful.
According to F1SA
, in an e-mail to McLaren's lawyers three days ago, the FIA revealed that former chief steward Tony Scott Andrews had admitted by phone to FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting that he had been wrong to penalise Liuzzi.
When McLaren checked on Sunday, Scott Andrews denied any such admission, telling the court that he was 'extremely surprised' by the governing body's email, which he described as 'grossly inaccurate and misleading' and misrepresenting his earlier comments.
It was also reported at the time that Whiting had informed McLaren during the race that Hamilton's behaviour had been 'okay', only to subsequently backtrack and remark: “It became clear to me after seeing the incident in a more detailed way the whole advantage had not been given back.”
McLaren's QC Mark Phillips had told the Paris court: “I ask you to reflect on that when you come to consider the way in which certain members of the FIA conducted themselves.”