The only interesting thing to happen over the course of the weekend of the Hungarian Grand Prix was the Alonso/Hamilton/McLaren spat which blew up in qualifying.

Quite who was at fault in that is a matter of great debate, but the result was a penalty of 5 places on the grid for Alonso and a deduction of any Constructors Championship points that McLaren scored in the race.

The fairness of the penalties is as much a source of debate as the penalties themselves, but the upshot was that the penalty handed to Alonso was immediate and therefore he was unable to appeal against it which somehow doesn’t seem very fair.  McLaren’s points could be easily added back on at a later date if any appeal they lodged were successful.

Whether they would appeal or not wasn’t clear at the weekend - initially the indications were that an appeal would be lodged immediately, then they said that it had to be discussed and finally the team seemed to be swaying away from the idea.

It was suggested by outside sources that the reason they may not appeal was to sweeten up the FIA a little ahead of another appeal which is looming in the spying row against Ferrari.   This seemed to make sense, as most people agreed McLaren had got off lightly by not receiving any punishment despite the FIA finding that the team were in possession of a large number of Ferrari technical documents.  To appeal the Hungary decision, could put a different light on this when the FIA come to hear the appeal in September.

Despite this train of thought, McLaren have today announced that they will in fact be appealing the decision to dock their points from last weekend.

Why this apparent change of mind?

Well, McLaren currently hold a 19 point lead over Ferrari with six races left to run this season.  At the weekend, their drivers scored 15 points which they weren’t eligible to add to this lead which would have stretched their lead to 34 points over their archrivals.

I assume Ron Dennis feels that even though there is a risk of the FIA upholding the steward’s decision to penalise them, the reward of a successful appeal outweighs the possible negatives.  If they find against them, then it’s probably unlikely that the FIA will dock more points from the team, and instead impose a fine to accompany the lost points from Hungary.  If they find in McLaren’s favour however, then that lead of 34 points would be a much more comfortable cushion over the Italian team.

I think it’s probably a good choice to appeal as the pros seem to outweigh the cons - unless I’m missing something obvious!  After this race, there are 108 points left up for grabs, assuming the cars finish first and second, and even supposing Ferrari do show a better turn of pace to finish in those positions at every remaining race, I can’t see the McLarens dropping off to such an extent that they don’t score enough  points to consolidate that lead.

This could all be academic however, depending on the outcome of the spying appeal in September…