SEPTEMBER 22, 2008
The question that the court cannot answer
The FIA International Court of Appeal will give its ruling tomorrow on the question of Lewis Hamilton's penalty in Belgium. The court met today in Paris to listen to the arguments about whether the appeal was admissible and then the details of the case itself. The key question that emerges from the case is the need for an explanation as to why Race Director Charlie Whiting twice told McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan that he believed that Hamilton had done the right thing by handing the place back to Kimi Raikkonen.
The court heard the tape of Whiting saying that he believed the move was OK. What does not make sense is that given this attitude Whiting had no reason to write a report to the FIA Stewards, a necessary step in the awarding of penalties. And yet he did. What the FIA needs to answer is what, if anything, caused Whiting to change his mind.
There is an increasing feeling in F1 circles that the stewarding of the sport needs to be altered. We hear on the grapevine that a change is coming and that in future there will be four stewards, rather than the current two. This is not really a step forward as it will mean that two of those appointed will be members of the FIA World Council, or to put it another way, political appointees. There are still considerable misgivings about the fact that FIA President Max Mosley's chief consultant acts as the stewards' advisor at races. he may be a very clever man, but he is not the only person in the world who knows the F1 rules and it would be best, if only from an image perspective, that Mosley's men be kept away from the decision-making process.