It’s quite easy when one or two things go against you to feel like the whole world is conspiring against you, and I’m sure that’s what it must feel like to Ron Dennis and his McLaren team.

Formula 1 can be a complicated sport to follow - possibly why it’s never done too well with an American audience who tend to like their sports relatively straightforward and simple.  But even the most ardent F1 fan will be scratching their heads at what has been going on this season between McLaren, Ferrari and the FIA.

One aspect has already been discussed here, and although that was seemingly settled at the time but later sent to appeal, it now appears the case is being reopened as new evidence has come to light.  This new hearing will take place next Thursday, 13th September 2007, but whether that will bring things to a close is seriously doubtful.

There has even been some talk against Dennis and McLaren from within his own team as Fernando Alonso has spoken out about his feelings, and the wonderkid Lewis Hamilton hasn’t exactly been following team orders either.

The main opponent for McLaren though has been the FIA, and as they are the sport’s governing body who decide on punishments and the like then they are the one to fear most too.

After the pitstop fiasco at the Hungarian Grand Prix, the FIA stepped in and penalised both Alonso and the team - a step which most observers thought too harsh.  It was a situation which only affected the drivers within one team so the feeling was that the team should have sorted things out internally.  McLaren have appealed the decision to strip them of their points from that weekend, and that appeal is still to be heard - another court date for Ron Dennis to put in his diary.

Today it has been revealed that during that weekend, McLaren ran a lightweight gearbox which hadn’t been through the crashtest safety procedures and so their cars are now under investigation.  This doesn’t really bode well for McLaren’s position in the World Championship as any sort of punishment is likely to be severe and extremely detrimental to them being top come the end of the season.

I think that the stewards’ decision will give an indication of what is likely to happen overall this season.  If they come down hard on McLaren this weekend then I think it will follow that the FIA will also levy a harder punishment next week - assuming they have credible evidence that the team have committed some wrongdoing. 

If the stewards are a bit more lenient then Ron Dennis, his drivers and the rest of the team will breathe a big sigh of relief.

In the past, popular consensus has been that the FIA mete out punishments in Ferrari’s favour and against their biggest competitors - I don’t know if this is really the case, or whether it just seems that way - but in the next couple of weeks it would seem like they have the opportunity to hand out the ultimate penalty, exclusion from the World Championships for both this year and next year.

Whatever the outcome, it looks unlikely that the championships will be decided on the track rather than in the courts which is a shame for all concerned, including the fans and viewing public.