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FIA set to hear Hamilton appeal


Paris : Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren-Mercedes team enter Monday’s appeal against a Belgian Grand Prix penalty in a confident mood, with the British Formula One driver declaring himself “not guilty.”

Hamilton is expected to appear in Paris before the appeals court of the ruling body FIA to plead his case.

A lot is at stake for Hamilton, who, if successful, would stretch his world championship lead over Ferrari driver Felipe Massa from one to seven points ahead of the final four season races.

Hamilton originally won the Belgian race in Spa, but later received a 25-second penalty from race stewards for an overtaking manoeuvre against world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

The officials said Hamilton gained an unfair advantage when he cut a chikane in the process and that he didn’t slow down long enough afterwards.

The penalty dropped Hamilton from first to third place, with the original second-place finisher Massa declared the winner.

The ruling drew widespread criticism and Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug said ahead of the FIA hearing that “the facts clearly speak in Lewis’ favour”.

McLaren said that Hamilton slowed down to let Raikkonen pass before moving ahead of the Finn ahead at the next turn.

The FIA later clarified the rules, saying that in the future drivers who cut a chicane must wait for two turns before attempting to pass another driver.

Hamilton said he hoped that FIA will use the appeal to change its ruling. But he also said that a confirmation of the penalty will not be the end of the world for him and that he will fight on for the title.