Hamilton's title hopes ended as McLaren lose out on final appeal

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton is determined "to go one better" next season after seeing his last remaining hope of winning this year's Formula One world title crushed by the Court of Appeal of the Formula One's ruling body, the FIA.

Hamilton has reiterated McLaren's stance that the team had no desire to claim the championship in the courtroom.

That was despite the team's lawyer, Ian Mill QC, yesterday calling at the hearing for Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld to be disqualified from the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix for fuel irregularities, and a reclassification of the championship.

However, the four judges who presided over the case today ruled McLaren's appeal as inadmissible, so finally confirming Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen as the 2007 champion.

Reflecting on the verdict, Hamilton stated: "As I have said all along, Kimi deserved to win the championship. Neither I nor anyone at McLaren-Mercedes, had any desire to take it off him in court. That was not the purpose of the team's appeal.

"I am now looking forward to the 2008 season and racing Kimi, and all my other rivals, on track. Hopefully, I'll be able to go one better than the second place I achieved in this year's championship."

McLaren had called into question the decision of the stewards at Interlagos not to punish Williams and BMW Sauber for apparently using "cool fuel", so gaining a performance advantage. Rosberg, Kubica and Heidfield finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively in Brazil behind the race-winner Raikkonen, with Hamilton seventh and so missing out on the title by a point from the Finn.

If the trio had been disqualified it is conceivable Hamilton could have been promoted up the race classification, and so snatch the crown from Raikkonen.

But the judges ultimately decided McLaren did not have grounds to appeal in the first place, without even looking into the "cool fuel" argument that had caused the initial controversy.

Confirming their judgement, a statement read: "Having heard the explanations of both parties and examined the various documents and other evidence, the court decided that the appeal lodged by Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes is inadmissible."

McLaren's Formula One chief executive officer, Martin Whitmarsh, said: "In the interests of rule clarification and rule consistency we lodged our appeal. We have not yet seen the text of the FIA International Court of Appeal decision, and hope that clarification is provided.

"It's important to stress that the FIA stewards' inquiry at the Brazilian Grand Prix was not triggered by any action from McLaren, but by a report written and made public by the FIA technical delegate. That drew the FIA stewards' attention to what we regarded as a clear regulation breach on the part of BMW Sauber and Williams.

"Our appeal was merely a logical and procedural step in the process begun by the FIA technical delegate's written report. We hope this fuel temperature issue does not remain unresolved in Formula One next year. But we look forward to working with the FIA and the teams on clarifying matters to avoid a similar situation occurring."

The verdict concludes a miserable season for McLaren, as the team were fined £50m and stripped of all constructors' points in the "Spygate" case.