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Ruling demotes Hamilton to third

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Lewis Hamilton has had his Belgian Grand Prix victory snatched away after a time penalty saw him relegated to finishing in third place.

Two hours after Hamilton left the track, thinking he had taken maximum points and stretched his lead in the drivers' championship to eight points, the race stewards intervened.

The trio of Nicholas Deschaux, Surinder Thatti and Yves Bacquelaine imposed a retrospective 25-second drive-through penalty against the McLaren star.

The end result saw the 23-year-old's lead slashed to just two points and handed Felipe Massa his fifth triumph of the season.

McLaren have registered their intent to appeal, although the rules state they will be unable to officially go ahead with a protest.

It is now up to the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Court of Appeal to determine if McLaren have grounds to pursue their complaint, otherwise it will simply be withdrawn.

The incident that led to the penalty occurred at the end of lap 42, when Hamilton's brakes locked as he battled with leader Kimi Raikkonen, forcing the Englishman to take evasive action by using a run-off area to his left.

The stewards deemed Hamilton had cut the chicane and gained an advantage.

© The Press Association 2008