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FIA giving ammunition to its critics?

NEWS STORY
23/09/2008

Those - and there are many - who believe that there is anti-McLaren bias within the FIA, will be paying close attention to events in Paris.

However, it is not the final outcome of the appeal against Lewis Hamilton's Spa penalty which is of interest - since it is almost certain to go against the Woking team - but revelations regarding last season's Japanese GP.

In the race, Tonio Liuzzi was given a time penalty for overtaking Adrian Sutil under a yellow flag. However, the Italian and his team (Toro Rosso) was subsequently successful in appealing the penalty.

At yesterday's hearing, McLaren claimed that FIA officials deliberately misrepresented the opinion of Tony Scott Andrews, the chief steward at the Fuji race, and the man for imposing the original penalty.

The Woking team claims that last Friday, its lawyers received an e-mail from the FIA stating that Scott Andrews subsequently admitted to being wrong to impose the penalty on Liuzzi, and that he later said so in a telephone conversation with (Race Director) Charlie Whiting.

With McLaren's case very much resting on the precedent set by the Japan appeal, McLaren's legal people talked to Scott Andrews at the weekend - he was officiating at an event at Brands Hatch - and shown the FIA's e-mail. He is said to have admitted to being surprised by the e-mail, describing it as "inaccurate" and misleading".

Scott Andrews claims that he was never asked if he had made a mistake and if he had been asked the answer would have been "no" - the opposite of what the FIA claims in its e-mail.

In his closing speech yesterday, McLaren's lawyer, Mark Phillips QC, referring to the FIA's e-mail and it implications, said; "I ask you to reflect on that when you come to consider the way in which certain members of the FIA conducted themselves. I won't say any more than that."

While he might not be saying any more, one can be sure that this is not the last we have heard of the matter.

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