The familiar ping of the incoming email alert on my Mac. The sender: FIA press, the subject: Extraordinary meeting of the FIA world council.
We’ve been expecting this since Friday, now the date is set – April 29th, the Wednesday after Bahrain and the rap sheet has been published.
“Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has been invited to appear before an extraordinary meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Wednesday, 29 April, 2009, to answer charges that, in breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, it
- on 29 March, 2009, told the stewards of the Australian Grand Prix that no instructions were given to Hamilton in Car No. 1 to allow Trulli in Car no. 9 to pass when both cars were behind the safety car, knowing this statement to be untrue;
- procured its driver Hamilton the current World Champion, to support and confirm this untrue statement to the stewards;
- although knowing that as a direct result of its untrue statement to the stewards, another driver and a rival team had been unfairly penalised, made no attempt to rectify the situation either by contacting the FIA or otherwise;
- on 2 April, 2009, at a second hearing before the stewards of the Australian Grand Prix, (meeting in Malaysia) made no attempt to correct the untrue statement of 29 March but, on the contrary, continued to maintain that the statement was true, despite being allowed to listen to a recording of the team instructing Hamilton to let Trulli past and despite being given more than one opportunity to correct its false statement;
- on 2 April, 2009, at the second stewards’ hearing, procured its driver Hamilton to continue to assert the truth of the false statement given to the stewards on 29 March, while knowing that what he was saying to the stewards was not true.”
The range of punishments goes from a fine, to a ban for a certain number of races, to disqualification. But the more likely route would be the loss of constructors’ championship points, as in 2007.
McLaren responded a few minutes later.
“We undertake to co-operate fully with all WMSC processes, and welcome the opportunity to work with the FIA in the best interests of Formula 1.
“This afternoon McLaren and its former sporting director, Dave Ryan, have formally parted company. As a result, he is no longer an employee of any of the constituent companies of the McLaren Group.”
McLaren are in an awkward position as they have already accepted that the above charges are valid. However, what the WMSC will seek to learn is whether Dave Ryan acted alone in telling Hamilton to ‘deliberately mislead’ the stewards, or whether anyone higher up in the organisation was involved.
Now Ryan is no longer an employee of McLaren, as long as he has no plans to work again in the sport (he is getting close to retirement age), he will be under no obligation to appear before the WMSC. This could turn out to be quite significant, as he could then be cast in the rogue employee role by McLaren and will not be there in Paris saying anything about who else was involved.
McLaren have ringfenced him in this way and it could be tricky for the WMSC to prove that anyone else in the team was involved.