Posted on April 3, 2009
Knives out at McLaren as fallout begins | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

The fallout from McLaren’s Melbourne radio fiasco has begun with sporting director Davey Ryan suspended from duty and sent home from Malaysia. He is taking the rap for the heavy punishment the team and its driver Lewis Hamilton have received for misleading the stewards on an overtaking issue behind the safety car in Melbourne.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “In my 20-odd years working for McLaren, I doubt if I’ve met a more dedicated individual than Davey. He’s been an integral part of McLaren since 1974 and has played a crucial role in the team’s many world championship successes since that time.

“However, his role in the events of last Sunday, particularly his dealings with the FIA stewards, has caused serious repercussions for the team, for which we apologise. Therefore, I suspended him this morning and he has accepted this.”

Ryan left the circuit mid morning for the airport, apparently in tears according to eye witnesses. He has been at McLaren since the 1970s, when he was a mechanic on James Hunt’s 1976 world title winning car. With the changeover of leadership from Ron Dennis to Martin Whitmarsh some of Dennis’ oldest allies have left the team, including engineer Steve Hallam and Tyler Alexander. Team manager for many years, Ryan was given a promotion over the winter to sporting director and appeared to have a strong future at the team.

However with the damage to the team’s reputation caused by the implication of dishonesty, Ryan, who accompanied Hamilton to the stewards room and presumably briefed him on the way, has been fingered for blame.

The team is in a process of change, with Dennis handing over the reins to Whitmarsh and beneath him Jonathan Neale. Ryan was a commanding presence at the team, a real disciplinarian. He will not be missed by some members of the team to whom he gave a hard time, but his discipline might well be missed.

Whitmarsh will have to rally his team from this setback, albeit aware that there may well be more pain to come from the FIA World Council who will consider a disrepute charge. At the same time he will have some explaining to do to the Mercedes Benz board, who stuck with the team after the spy scandal of 2007, but will be disappointed by this fresh blow to the team’s image. Mercedes own just under 50% of the team with the rest of the shareholding split between the Bahraini royal family, Ron Dennis and Mansour Ojjeh.

And behind the scenes, Hamilton and his team will be having some frank exchanges. Only they know whether he was told to say what he said to the stewards or whether it was his own idea.

Either way it has done damage to his sporting integrity.

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Knives out at McLaren as fallout begins
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  1.   1. Posted By: Jon
        Date: April 3rd, 2009 @ 7:48 am 

    We’re not to know if it was Hamilton’s idea or a team thing, either way it’s not a good image to portray for the current world champion. Add to that the pit lane speeding, and Hamilton isn’t looking good. Are McLaren self destructing?

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  2.   2. Posted By: George
        Date: April 3rd, 2009 @ 8:02 am 

    Sounds like a sad day for McLaren. I hope the punishment was deserved, and he’s not just a scapegoat. I guess we’ll have to see how the personnel changes pan out, certainly as a team McLaren have made quite a lot of high profile errors in the past few years, maybe it’s time for new blood.

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  3.   3. Posted By: Peter
        Date: April 3rd, 2009 @ 8:08 am 

    Misleading the sport management or let’s say lying in a dangerous and highly-complex sport is really hard fact, but given the circumstances of the situation are we not getting a bit over the top of the whole issue now?

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  4.   4. Posted By: Finn
        Date: April 3rd, 2009 @ 8:08 am 

    So they will suspend Ryan but not the other person who went in front of the Stewards and gave misleading information?

    I think that makes Macca look weaker and more duplicitous than ever.

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  5.   5. Posted By: Grand Prix TV
        Date: April 3rd, 2009 @ 8:20 am 

    How did they think they were going to get away with this one?

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  6.   6. Posted By: nuzzaci
        Date: April 3rd, 2009 @ 8:31 am 

    That’s how much the McLaren team values 35 years in duty. To me it’s obvious that Mr Hamilton is still very inexperienced or, at least, unable to make good decision when they need to be made.

    That other people takes the heat for him mistakes is not going to last much longer.

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  7.   7. Posted By: Kamran Tunio
        Date: April 3rd, 2009 @ 8:37 am 

    What on earth is going on? The entire situation has blown over the top.

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  8.   8. Posted By: knoxploration
        Date: April 3rd, 2009 @ 9:13 am 

    I think that’s perhaps a bit of a stretch on your part, Finn – and I say this as somebody who personally dislikes Hamilton, thinks he deserved to be penalized for having lied to the stewards, and believes in the principle of sporting fairness before all else.

    There is every possibility that Hamilton was told to say what he did by Ryan – and if he received a direct order from a superior then he can’t really be faulted by his team for following it. That’s not to say it excuses him from punishment by the FIA, but it does within his own team if the source of the order has been dealt with appropriately.

    This does, however, assume that Hamilton *was* coached by Ryan. We know from the FIA’s statements that Ryan and Hamilton both lied to the stewards, but it is entirely possible that they either both independently made the decision, or that they were both instructed by somebody else in the team.

    I sincerely hope that Ryan hasn’t been made a scapegoat for a decision he didn’t personally mae. Equally, I hope that if Hamilton made up his own mind as to what to tell the stewards, his team will act to ensure that he too understands cheating cannot be tolerated. If both individuals made up their own minds what to say, it would be inappropriate to punish one and not the other.

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  9.   9. Posted By: Martin P
        Date: April 3rd, 2009 @ 10:07 am 

    I suspect it’s about getting your own house in order before someone else does it for you.

    And I don’t mean the FIA…. Mercedes must be furious. That’s who they need to worry about, not Max. Could you imagine giving them half an excuse to pull out of Formula 1 in the current climate? Not a wise move.

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  10.   10. Posted By: Albo
        Date: April 3rd, 2009 @ 10:09 am 

    I think defacing someone’s face in that newspaper picture is an absolute disgrace. That person should be suspended!

    Suspend everyone !!!

    Suspend Trulli, if he hadnt driven off the track in the first place this wouldnt have happened!
    :) Its funny in a now unfunny way…it really is that ridiculous…

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  11.   11. Posted By: F1 fan
        Date: April 3rd, 2009 @ 2:24 pm 

    If they said “yes” to the Stewards, none, or at most only a little of this would have happened. If Lewis was told to say know then it’s hard not to, but if he was honest then he might have got away with it.

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  12.   12. Posted By: Rob Hart
        Date: April 12th, 2009 @ 1:08 am 

    My First Post:

    Is there anywhere that I can find a response from Davey Ryan ??…. I have looked in the obvious places!…. seems to me he is being (understandably) very quiet….. Is revenge a dish that is going to be served cold ?…. If DR & LH were ‘in it together’, then why were they not treated the same by the ‘Powers That Be’? Old razors are cast aside in favour of sharp ones (?) …. Pedro de la Rosa is a Brilliant Driver, as he well demonstrated in Bahrain…..
    We have only heard LH’s story (+ the Company’s)… where is Davey Ryan’s…. ??

    Seems to me to be a case of “If thine eye offends thee, pluck it out!”… ASAP!

    Any thoughts?…. Oh yes!, and I almost forgot….. The Money above Sport aspect!

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  13.   13. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: April 12th, 2009 @ 6:22 am 

    No, he’s not broken cover yet, as far as I am aware.

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  14.   14. Posted By: Rob Hart
        Date: April 12th, 2009 @ 3:27 pm 

    Thanks for that James…. Kind of redresses the balance a bit, eh ?…..

    Why do I have a feeling he may just emerge on the 29th ?

    I am a dedicated fan of the Sport, but have no particular Team preference…. I do, however, find it a little dis-concerting when confronted with this apparent kind of “Marsupial Justice” ..
    (Australia appropriate, Skippy?)

    ‘The Truth is Out There’…. long live Mulder & Scully!

    On another ‘front’…. Miss your commentary, but not the ads! …. and it is good to have ‘The Chain’ back!

    Murray’s shoes were difficult to step in to, but you made it! Well done!

    [Reply]

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