Lewis Hamilton makes personal appeal in Formula One penalty case
Lewis Hamilton will attend today's International Court of Appeal hearing in an attempt to boost his campaign for this season's Formula One world title. His team, McLaren, have decided that Hamilton will put forward his case in front of the four appeal judges at the Paris headquarters of motorsport's world governing body, the FIA.
The team could have opted for Hamilton to write a sworn statement to present to the court, but instead felt his presence would carry greater weight. That is despite the fact the 23-year-old should be preparing for this weekend's historic first night grand prix in Singapore.
Hamilton will be joined by McLaren's chief executive, Martin Whitmarsh, his race engineer, Phil Prew, the team's director of legal affairs, Tim Murnane, with the London law firm Baker McKenzie as their representatives.
McLaren are looking to overturn the retrospective 25-second penalty handed to Hamilton after the Belgian Grand Prix – which resulted in him being demoted from race winner to third. Controversy ensued when the stewards charged Hamilton with cutting the Bus Stop chicane on lap 42 of the 44-lap race, so gaining an advantage on the leader at the time, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton promptly handed the lead back to Raikkonen, as he was supposed to do under the rules, and then slipstreamed the Finn into the following La Source hairpin to claim top spot. Raikkonen proceeded to crash out on the penultimate lap, ensuring a victory for Hamilton that was later awarded to his title rival, Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
At this stage, with four races remaining, Hamilton has a one-point lead, that could stretch to seven if McLaren's appeal is initially ruled as admissible and the judges then decide to overturn the eventual race result.
Hamilton is adamant his move was legal, stating: "As I've said before, I feel like I won that race. What happened, happened, and I'll move on whatever the result, and then I'll focus on getting more points in the next few races. I'll continue to prove that. There's nothing that can put me off or bring me down."
Whitmarsh said: "I personally believe anyone who looks back at the race and is asked 'who deserved to win?', most people watching would say Lewis and not Felipe, who was half a minute behind.
The McLaren principal, Ron Dennis, said: "Although Lewis has had five penalties already this season, I would not claim he hasn't been treated fairly. More importantly, we have to have faith in the system, and in the fairness of the FIA International Court of Appeal."