NOVEMBER 14, 2007
The FIA Court of Appeal
It would be hard to find anyone in Formula 1 who seriously believes that the FIA International Court of Appeal will result in the World Championship result being overturned. There is a small possibility, depending on the decision of the court about penalties, that the two BMW Saubers and the two Williams-Toyotas could be thrown out of the race result in Brazil. Exclusion of the cars involved could move Lewis Hamilton up three places in the result. That would give him fourth place and five points rather than seventh place and two points. The additional three points would then move him ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the final World Championship standings.
Bernie Ecclestone has said that he would have "a very serious thought" about retiring if the World Championship was to be overturned by the court.
Ecclestone does not make such remarks lightly but then he obviously does not think that the result will make that necessary.
The court that meets today in London (thanks to the transit strikes in Paris) could decide that there is no case for an appeal to be made because procedures are usually different. According to the FIA Statutes appeals against decisions by the stewards of a meeting can be lodged by "one of the parties concerned". It is arguable whether McLaren was concerned in the specific issue. There is an argument that the team should perhaps have protested the race result and then appealed if that protest had been rejected by the FIA Stewards.
If the appeal is allowed then the court must then sift through the complex tissue of rules, quasi-rules, clarifications, opinions and all the rest of the stuff that makes up the way the sport is run before coming up with a result.
Whatever the result, a point will have been made. People need to know and understand the rules. Why, one must ask, did the FIA Technical Delegate produce a report that raised the question in the first place if the way temperature readings were taken in Brazil was different to the way that temperature readings were supposed to have been taken? Was he even aware of things had been agreed in meetings and memos about this particular rule? And what was the point if the measurement was taken in the refuelling machine and not in the car itself?
It would be good if the rulemakers responded in a positive way and immediately set out to produce rules that are logical, public and crystal clear. Having vague rules and regulations simply opens the way for confusions that are good for no-one.
This would make sense in this age of supposed total transparency. We do not need to know who is paying what to whom but it would certainly help to be able to read all the rules without someone saying it is not possible because the rules are part of a commercial contract and thus confidential, or that the technical rules change all the time because of clarifications that the rule-makers had not considered.
The sport needs to move forward and create rules that are fit for the 21st century.