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Counsel pleaded for no Hamilton penalty

The FIA World Motor Sport Council were pleaded not to throw Lewis Hamilton out of the Formula One world championship by the McLaren's driver counsel last week, the official transcript of the hearing have revealed

Amid the growing realisation that McLaren were going to be punished for their involvement in the F1 spying affair, Hamilton's counsel Mark Phillips QC issued an emotional appeal for the FIA to not wreck the fight for the drivers' world championship.

"Lewis Hamilton has done nothing wrong," said Phillips, who delivered the final defence submission before the World Council decided on its punishment. "He has driven brilliantly and is leading the Drivers' Championship by 3 points. If McLaren were banned from competing in the remaining races, Lewis Hamilton would not be able to compete in the final four races.

"He would lose the points that he has so brilliantly won over the last few months, to the sheer delight and excitement of millions of ordinary motor racing fans. The same would be true in 2008: if McLaren were excluded, Lewis Hamilton would not be able to compete in 2008 and McLaren would lose him as a driver.

"Perhaps he would drive elsewhere, assuming first that he could find a seat and assuming that that was a competitive seat. But I ask you to remember what he said in his statement: he has wanted to drive for McLaren for all of his racing life. He has been there since he was a young boy. He has been supported throughout his career for McLaren and wants to continue racing for McLaren.

"Of course, if you do eject McLaren from the 2007 and 2008 Championships, the consequence will be that Ferrari will certainly win this year's championship and probably that of next year. It would leave the Formula One title to be decided by four races, in which one of the two top teams, if not the top team, would not be competing.

"It would be an absolute disaster for Formula One. The public would lose all confidence in the sport that we all love. It would also be a disaster for Ferrari. As a third party and avid motor sport fan, it begs disbelief that Ferrari could seriously want to see McLaren ejected.

"Their victories would be as hollow as the ones we saw in Indianapolis 2005. We respectfully suspect and suggest that racers like Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa would feel cheated if they were to win the World Championship after their two main rivals had been thrown out."

Phillips went on to suggest that a much better punishment would be for McLaren to be thrown out of the manufacturers' championship.

"The following is critical. As a punishment for what has happened, and putting aside the timetable of how it came out, it would not be fair or proportionate, based on the core material alone, to eject McLaren. You may therefore decide that you should deduct points. Of course, that will give rise to the question: whose points should you consider deducting?

"Lewis Hamilton has done nothing wrong and has won his points by driving. One remembers his passing move on Kimi Raikkonen and respectfully suggest that it would be a travesty to penalise him. We do not ask that any different treatment be given teammate and chief competitor in this year's Formula One Championship, Fernando Alonso.

"As for the teams' points in the Manufacturers' Championship, we would leave it to McLaren to justify why those should be retained. However, we would observe that stripping McLaren of the manufacturers' points, leaving Ferrari to win that championship in the most hollow of victories.

"Gentlemen, when you come to consider what is fair proportionate and just, we invite you to have in mind that the world wants to see the world's top drivers competing on-track for the World Championship. They do not want to see it decided by lawyers. We respectfully invite you to leave the World Championship alone.

"Where Lewis Hamilton is concerned, let him get back to the track, to become the first rookie world champion in Formula One history."

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