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Hamilton disappointed by appeal rejection

September 23, 2008 22:31 IST

Lewis Hamilton [Images] said he was disappointed but not depressed Tuesday after a court rejected McLaren's appeal to have the Formula One leader reinstated as Belgian Grand Prix winner.

The decision left the 23-year-old Briton just one point clear of Ferrari's [Images] Brazilian Felipe Massa [Images] with four races remaining.

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement that the court of five judges had "concluded that the appeal is inadmissible" after Hamilton gave his version of events at the hearing in Paris Monday.

"Article 152 of the International Sporting Code states that drive-through penalties are 'not susceptible to appeal'," the FIA added.

Hamilton, who was demoted from first to third at Spa-Francorchamps in the September 7 race after cutting a chicane, will now start Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix with 78 points to 77 for Massa.

Had McLaren's appeal been successful, Hamilton would have had a seven point advantage.

"People will probably expect me to be depressed about today's result, but that isn't me," he said in a McLaren statement.

"All I want to do now is put this matter behind me and get on with what we drivers do best -- racing each other. We're racers, we're naturally competitive, and we love to overtake.

"Overtaking is difficult, and it feels great when you manage to pull off a great passing manoeuvre. If it pleases the spectators and TV viewers, it's better still. So I'm disappointed, yes, but not depressed."

A Ferrari spokesman said the Italian team would not be commenting on the verdict.

The race at Spa was a thriller but the excitement fell flat when stewards later ruled that Hamilton had gained an advantage by cutting the Bus Stop chicane while duelling with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen [Images] for the lead in the closing stages.

They imposed a retrospective drive-through penalty, translated into 25 seconds added to Hamilton's total time, which dropped him from first to third.

Massa, who had finished second, was awarded his fifth win of the season instead.

Hamilton, who had handed back the position gained before overtaking Raikkonen again into the next corner, told the court in Paris he felt he had acted according to the rules.

McLaren had also pointed out to the court that race control had twice given Hamilton the all-clear at the time.

"We are naturally disappointed with today's verdict, and to have received no ruling on the substance of our appeal," said McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh.

"No-one wants to win grands prix in court but we felt that Lewis had won the Belgian Grand Prix, on track, in an exciting and impressive manner.

"Our legal team and witnesses calmly explained this, as well as our belief that the appeal should be admissible, to the FIA International Court of Appeal," he added.

Hamilton arrived in Singapore Tuesday, where he chatted and joked with fans while watching youngsters drive an F1 simulator in one of the city-state's plushest shopping centres.

Dressed in a grey suit, the driver told the crowd he was fully focussed and looking forward to the sport's first night race.

© Copyright 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
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