FIA president Max Mosley has rubbished claims that there is an agenda working to make success harder for McLaren, in the wake of Lewis Hamilton losing victory in last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

Speaking on his first visit to a Formula One event since the resolution of the court case resulting from a tabloid expose into his private life, Mosley denied that there was any attempt to direct this year's world titles to Ferrari, following suggestions that the sport was being fixed as a hangover from last year's espionage scandal involving the top two teams.

Hamilton crossed the line first at Spa-Francorchamps, but was adjudged to have passed Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen after unfairly cutting the Bus Stop chicane. The decision to add a retrospective 25-second penalty to the Briton's race time was enough to drop him to third in the revised result, handing victory - and a much-reduced championship deficit - to Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

McLaren has appealed the decision, which caused outrage among sections of the British media, with a hearing expected in the week before the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix later this month.

"Any suggestion that there is a bias for or against any team or driver is completely untrue," Mosley insisted to Reuters, "I think [Hamilton] is a brilliant driver and it would be really excellent for Formula One, and the world championship, if he won it. But that doesn't mean we are going to help him or hinder him. We are going to be utterly neutral."

"The British papers have gone hysterical over what happened in Belgium. I think it's a reflection, and I'm sorry to say this, of the stupidity of the people who say it, because they haven't really thought the thing through and put themselves in the position of the people who have to take these very difficult decisions.

"My immediate reaction was this [situation] is going to waste a great deal of everybody's time. Which is true, it's what always happens. A tiny incident and it takes up hours of your time."

Mosley did admit, however, that errors had been made in the immediate handling of the incident, notably the involvement of race director Charlie Whiting. McLaren had requested an 'official' opinion regarding the legitimacy of Hamilton's efforts to return the lead of the race to Raikkonen, and claim that it had been given the okay for the Briton to start attacking again.

It has since been suggested that the F1 rulebook contains a clause that states, in such situations, the chasing driver should not attempt to re-take the lead until after the next corner. Hamilton, it is alleged, used his momentum from cutting the chicane to dive past Raikkonen at La Source.

"McLaren should not have asked Charlie whether Lewis had done anything wrong - and he should not have answered," the president insisted, "When rain came down on one of the fastest circuits in the world, with most of the cars on dry tyres, it was a very dangerous situation. If there had been a spin and a collision between two cars, it would have been a nightmare.

"Charlie was in one of the most highly-pressured situations, so teams should not ask and he should not answer, because he was not in a position to give even the beginnings of a considered opinion. His responsibility was to see that nobody got killed."

The president also backed the position of FIA chief steward Alan Donnelly, whose tenure had been questioned when it was revealed that he had had business dealing with Ferrari's road car arm. Donnelly is the one permanent member of the senior officiating team in Formula One, with other stewards overseeing events on a random basis, allegedly to prevent them from forming relationships with the teams, but Mosley insisted that Donnelly should be allowed to retain his post despite suggestions that he might be biased.

"I do believe it is complete and utter rubbish and, particularly in Formula One, it would be impossible to find somebody who had a reasonable knowledge of [the sport] who hadn't had a relationship with one of the teams," he maintained, "I have heard these things being discussed, but I believe it is utter rubbish."

Mosley also reiterated the widely-held belief that Hamilton would not be cowed by the Spa decision, claiming that the Briton was often at his best when the chips were down.

"It would be brilliant if he won, because he is a supreme talent and, when it's difficult, that's when we see it," the president pointed out, "He has done a great job but, whilst we can admire, we mustn't assist or hinder."



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