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Hamilton makes his case as McLaren appeal


September 10, 2008 00:20 IST

McLaren appealed on Tuesday against a stewards' decision to strip their Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton [Images] of victory in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

"We hereby confirm that we have now lodged notice of appeal," said the team's chief executive Martin Whitmarsh in a statement.

Formula One's governing body must still decide whether the appeal is admissible, however, and the controversy is sure to hang over next weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Whitmarsh said Race Control at Spa had twice confirmed to McLaren on Sunday afternoon that they were comfortable with Hamilton's behaviour on the track, before the stewards opened their inquiry.

The 23-year-old Briton was given a retrospective drive-through, translated into 25 seconds added to his time, demoting him to third and slashing his championship lead to two points over Ferrari's [Images] race winner Felipe Massa [Images].

The stewards ruled that Hamilton, who would have been eight points clear had he kept the win, gained an advantage when he cut the Bus Stop chicane while fighting Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen [Images] for the lead on a wet and slippery surface.

Hamilton allowed world champion Raikkonen to get back in front of him momentarily before again overtaking down the straight into the first corner.

"From the pit wall, we then asked Race Control to confirm that they were comfortable that Lewis had allowed Kimi to re-pass, and they confirmed twice that they believed that the position had been given back in a manner that was okay," said Whitmarsh.

"If Race Control had instead expressed any concern regarding Lewis's actions at that time, we would have instructed Lewis to allow Kimi to re-pass for a second time."

Hamilton also explained his version of events.

"In the closing stages of the race I was catching Kimi consistently, lap by lap, and with three laps remaining I got close enough to attempt to overtake him on the entry to the last chicane," he said.

"I managed to get slightly ahead of him in the braking area for the first apex of the chicane. He fought back approaching the second apex but, in doing so, he left no room for me on the inside line.

"The only way for me to avoid a collision was therefore to cut inside the second apex.

"I came out of the second apex in front of Kimi and so I momentarily lifted-off on the straight, to ensure that Kimi got back in front," continued the driver, whose demotion threw Formula One into an immediate controversy with some commentators expressing outrage at the penalty.

"The team also came on the radio and instructed me to allow Kimi to re-pass, which I had already done. As a result, Kimi crossed the start/finish line ahead of me and 6.7 kph quicker than me.

"After allowing Kimi to completely re-pass, I crossed from the left side of the track to the right side of the track, passing behind Kimi in the process. I then attacked Kimi on the inside of the first corner, and successfully outbraked him."

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Formula One: The Complete Coverage

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