| Hamilton in Kuala Lumpur. (AP) |
Kuala Lumpur: McLaren have decided not to appeal the FIAs decision to disqualify Lewis Hamilton and the team from the Australian GP for providing evidence deliberately misleading to the stewards.
The disqualification is a result of the FIA examining new evidence that came to light regarding exactly what went on when Hamilton and Toyotas Jarno Trulli were battling for third and fourth positions under safety car conditions at the Albert Park circuit last Sunday.
Both drivers were summoned to a stewards meeting at Sepang on Thursday morning to go through the incident again and Hamilton was later cagey when asked about the situation in an FIA press conference.
Its just to do with new information that they have, he said. I shouldnt really talk about it since it is being resolved at the moment. It would be improper.
The new evidence in question are radio conversations between Hamilton and his McLaren team, which clarify whether Hamilton deliberately slowed to let Trulli overtake him near the end of the race.
Trulli was handed a 25-second time penalty, in lieu of a drive-through punishment, for overtaking Hamilton for third place in the closing stages of the Melbourne race.
That dropped him from third place to 12th overall in the standings, promoting Hamilton up to the final spot on the podium.
Although the stewards ruled that Trulli had been in breach of the regulations, the Toyota driver maintained his innocence — claiming that Hamilton slowed deliberately.
Hamilton is believed to have admitted in an interview immediately following the race that he slowed down under team orders, although whether he told stewards that is a moot point.
The FIA called the meeting under Article 179b of the International Sporting Code, which gives the governing body the right of review of events if a new element is discovered.
The FIA recalled Olafur Gudmundsson and Steve Chopping, stewards from the Australian GP, to the hearing with Hamilton and Trulli.
In addition, Malaysian GP steward Surinder Thatti joined them to rule if the decision to demote Trulli should be upheld in Malaysia.
An FIA statement read: The stewards having considered the new elements presented to them from the 2009 Australian Formula One Grand Prix, consider that driver No. 1 Lewis Hamilton and the competitor McLaren Mercedes acted in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of the event by providing evidence deliberately misleading to the stewards at the hearing on Sunday March 29, a breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code.
Under Article 158 of the International Sporting Code the driver No. 1 Lewis Hamilton and the competitor McLaren Mercedes are excluded from the race classification for the 2009 Australian Grand Prix and the classification is amended accordingly.
McLarens decision not to appeal seemingly puts the issue to bed, although team principal Martin Whitmarsh was not pleased with the stewards verdict.
Obviously we are disappointed by what happened but in the circumstances, we are not going to appeal, he said. As we see it, during the closing stages of the race under difficult conditions, there was a safety car incident where Trulli fell off the circuit and Lewis legitimately passed. Lewis didnt do anything abnormal and it was clear Trulli shouldnt have passed him. But we have to accept the decision.
It has been suggested that the FIA arrived at the decision because McLaren withheld information about a radio conversation that took place between Hamilton and the pit during the course of the incident.
What I understand is that theres a belief that the team was not explicit enough in terms of the content of the radio conversations, Whitmarsh continued.
We dont believe that those radio conversations had an effect on the fact that he was passed by Trulli under a safety car period.
The problem is that the stewards believe that the team was not explicit enough in releasing that information. We dont think that affected the outcome of their (original) decision.
I believe that it was a harsh decision. I think the facts of the case are that Lewis made a legitimate pass and subsequently was re-passed.
We felt that the decision of the stewards in the immediate aftermath of the race was fair but the stewards now believe that the radio conversation — that was listened to and heard by the FIA — because it was not sufficiently contained in the submission that we made and that we withheld that was the reason that they came to their decision Thursday.