OCTOBER 22, 2007

McLaren to appeal Stewards' decision

McLaren says it will appeal the decision of the Stewards in Brazil not to punish the BMW Sauber and Williams teams despite the fact that fuel temperature in all four cars was more than 10-degrees C beneath the ambient temperature, which is not allowed according to the regulations. McLaren says that it accepts that it was beaten fair and square by Ferrari in Brazil and says that it simply wants to understand how cars can be found by FIA officials to have broken the rules and yet not have any punishment.

It is important to point out that the events of Sunday night were not caused by any protest from McLaren but rather resulted from a report from FIA Technical Delegate Jo Bauer to the stewards, drawing their attention to the problem.

This is a fair point and it comes eight years after a ruling by which Ferrari won the Malaysian Grand Prix when the measuring techniques of the scrutineers were called into question in the International Court of Appeal.

This is effectively what has happened in Brazil as the stewards ruled that they did not have "a precise reading of the temperature of 'fuel on board the car' which shows fuel at more than 10 degrees C below ambient temperature" nor did they have a regulation stating "in clear terms" that the definitive ambient temperature shall be that indicated on the FOM timing monitors".

The stewards added that there was a "considerable discrepancy between the ambient temperatures recorded by FOM and by Meteo France.

This provided them with sufficient doubt as to the true ambient temperature and that it was therefore inappropriate to impose a penalty.

Given that the outcome of the World Championship might have been at stake, depending on the penalty imposed, this decision was not an easy one to take but it must raise questions about the quality of the scrutineering methods, particularly in the light of the Ferrari bargeboard case in 1999.

There is a very sound philosophical argument that asks the question of what technical rules are worth if they cannot properly be measured - and further questions about why things have not been improved during the eight year period since Malaysia 1999.

It is a sad reflection that a great sporting day should have to end with such questions, but at the same time it is right that these questions be asked - and indeed answered in a proper fashion.