The 2007 season has had more twists and turns than a race around the old 14 mile long Nurburgring. Even now, with no more races to go, the results could still change due to apparent rule infringements by the BMW and Williams teams.
For a number of years, the fuel in a Formula One car has had to be analysed carefully by the FIA during races to prevent unfair advantage accruing to one team or another. The fuel is the basis for the power an F1 car produces, and the more power the car has, the faster it can lap. The cooler the fuel, the higher up the field the car finishes.
In the past, some teams added illegal substances to their fuel tanks. These days it is the temperature of the fuel that makes a difference, and both BMWs and Nico Rosberg’s Williams were all found to have been using fuel that was overcooled. Spyker technical chief Mike Gascoyne said he believed the variation would have provided a performance advantage:
“It can be five to ten horsepower easily,” he told autosport.com. “The car is producing a performance advantage during the race. If they dump fuel in that is below the limit, it is an illegal performance advantage. They should be excluded from the event, there is absolutely no doubt.”
Initially the FIA Technical Delegate, Jo Bauer, announced that the three cars in question had broken the rules. Then, after some politicking no doubt, some hours after this announcement the stewards at the race said he was wrong.
With the huge heavy hand they applied to McLaren earlier in the year, the FIA have boxed themselves into a bit of a corner when it comes to how they treat any other team when it comes to rule infringements. They were so concerned with applying the rules when it came to McLaren, if they back out of using their own rules again now they will be giving support to anyone claiming they are biased in favour of Ferrari and against McLaren.
If, as Mike Gascoyne says, the three cars should be disqualified, that would move Hamilton up three places in the race classification, give him three more points, and elevate him from second to first in the Championship. But the stewards decided they could not bear to do this and chickened out.
So, McLaren had no option other than to appeal. Hence the 2007 Drivers’ Championship is still not over, and may be settled in the courts, just as the Constructors Championship was.
Now, that would be poetic justice.