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DATE News (chronologically)
10/03/07
f1
Why Hamilton should not become World Champ  The hard truth is that when the lights go out before the start of Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, Hamilton should not be in with a glimmer of a chance of clinching the world drivers' title.

I know it would spoil an awfully good story, the best British sports story of the year, a story we all want to sign up to.

But the fact is Hamilton should be starting the race in Shanghai precisely 90 points behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

He shouldn't be driving for points at all, let alone the title. He shouldn't be driving for anything other than the chance to try to restore a little of McLaren's shattered reputation.

The decision to strip his team of all its points but leave those gained by Hamilton and Alonso intact defied logic when it was made last month and it defies logic now.

Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday but the constructors' table still shows McLaren with a big fat zero next to its name. I'm sorry but Hamilton should have one next to his, too. Most people in the sport recognize this.

Certainly those who are brave enough to speak out. Max Mosley, the FIA president, accepted the sport's decision was indefensible and distanced himself from it.

His excuse was Alonso and Hamilton had been promised immunity in return for cooperating with the inquiry into the theft of Ferrari's information.

But his heart wasn't really in it. He'd still wanted them stripped of their points. It's not the first time Formula One has surrendered to the demands of commercialism and it won't be the last.

And you can be sure that this weekend in Shanghai, everybody will be doing their level best to forget that Ferrarigate ever happened. If I was there, I'd be doing it, too.

But it did happen. Sensitive and crucial information from Ferrari did find its way into the hands of McLaren. No one's even bothering to deny that any more. And just because Hamilton didn't know he had an unfair advantage, that doesn't mean it wasn't there. His team was cheating and - there is no way round this - he is part of that team.

There is a possibility Hamilton and Alonso finished higher in races this season than they would have done without the input from the information gleaned from Ferrari.

Hamilton may have profited from that information unwittingly but there's a likelihood he profited from it nevertheless.

There's a likelihood he won points he might not otherwise have won. There's a possibility he won races he might not otherwise have won.

Perhaps it seems otherwise, but I have little appetite for criticizing Hamilton. I've met him, albeit fleetingly. I liked him and admired him. It's hard not to.

But just as it was impossible to pretend Christine Ohuruogu's world championship gold was not tainted in some way by her three missed drugs tests, so it is impossible to ignore the stain that marks Hamilton's achievement.

At least Ohuruogu paid the penalty for what she did. She served her punishment and came back stronger.

Hamilton? He got off scot-free. But if he becomes the first rookie Formula One world champion, the sport will have sideswiped justice to get him there. More at The Mirror

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