Monday, September 8, 2008

Massa inherits Belgian win after Hamilton penalised

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa has been declared the winner of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix after McLaren’ Lewis Hamilton was handed a 25-second time penalty following the race. Hamilton drops to third place as a result, with BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld moving up to second. McLaren plan to appeal the decision.Hamilton was penalised after stewards decided he had gained an advantage by cutting the final chicane in his late-race battle with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Raikkonen crashed out shortly after the incident, having the led the bulk of the race up to that point."I have often said that the race is not over until the official results are published and that was the case today," said Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali. "As usual, Ferrari will not comment on the stewards' decision. After the race, we were called to the stewards and we explained our position."We are very disappointed for Kimi, who had driven a great race and deserved the win, especially at this rather difficult time. This result is obviously very important for our championship hopes: now we must maintain maximum concentration and prepare as well as possible for the forthcoming races."
McLaren insisted they had little choice but to appeal the stewards' decision, given that Hamilton had immediately surrendered the lead back to Raikkonen on the start-finish straight, before then passing the Finn going into the La Source hairpin."We looked at all our data and also made it available to the FIA stewards," said the team. "It showed that, having lifted, Lewis was 6km/h slower than Kimi as they crossed the start-finish line. Having passed the lead back to Kimi, Lewis repositioned his car, moving across and behind Kimi to the right-hand line and then out-braked him into the hairpin. Based on this data, we have no option other than to register our intention to appeal."
The revised result means that rather than extending his championship lead over Massa, Hamilton now sees it cut, with the Briton heading the Brazilian by just two points, 76 to 74, with five races remaining.Assuming their right to appeal is accepted, McLaren's case against Hamilton's penalty will be heard by the FIA's International Court of Appeal at a date to be determined.

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