Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso would have been thrown out of the Formula One title race over the Ferrari spying scandal if FIA head Max Mosley had got his way.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) president said he was part of a minority on the governing body's World Motor Sport Council last Thursday that wanted a more severe penalty. He also suggested that if either Hamilton or Alonso won the championship, a question mark would remain over the title because the team had stolen Ferrari information in their possession.
"I think he will probably feel more comfortable if he wins a subsequent championship without any of these question marks," Mosley said of Hamilton. "There was a big debate in the World Council about whether all the points should go – team and drivers. We discussed whether to take the drivers' points from McLaren, but allow the drivers to drive, don't interfere with their super licence and so on.
"The lawyers felt everything should go – drivers points and all – because, they argued, how can you give the world champion's cup to someone who may have had an unfair advantage over other drivers?
"They have effectively cheated. But the other side of it was, here is this brilliant world championship between Hamilton and Alonso.
"The sporting people were saying, 'If you interfere with that, you are spoiling a very good championship. It wasn't the drivers' fault.' But there again, it never is.
"Very often, for example, a car will be disqualified because it is a kilo overweight which will probably make no difference at all, but you have to have this principle. It's the same as anywhere else, if you're outside of the rules, you are not in the game.
"So there will always be a question mark over it, there has to be, because nobody knows how big an advantage they had from that. But that they had an advantage is almost beyond dispute."
Asked whether he was disappointed, Mosley replied: "Slightly. I feel that when people look back in 10 to 15 years' time and when all the emotions have gone, they will say, 'Hang on a minute, we just don't know what would have happened. Would Raikkonen or Massa maybe have won had it not been for this?"
Alonso and Hamilton's points were also protected by the amnesty offered in exchange for information.Reuse content