Posted on April 9, 2009
Might a possible McLaren ban include Silverstone? | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

I have no wish to start scaremongering, but looking at Bernie Ecclestone’s comments in the Express that he wouldn’t rule out a ban of a few races for McLaren, makes me look through the F1 calendar at the races ahead with some nervousness.

The recent precedent was BAR, which received a ban over its fuel tank irregularities in May 2005. In that instance BAR was found guilty of ‘fraudulent conduct’ and the word ‘fraud’ was used again this week by Ecclestone in the McLaren case,

“It is about stealing a point and a place but those are worth money so basically it is fraud, although I am sure it started off more innocently without thought of the consequences,” he said.

Ecclestone also highlights the fact that McLaren will be back in front of the beak on similar charges to the ones they faced less than two years ago and it is never a good thing to show you haven’t mended your ways.

I’d be surprised if McLaren – and therefore Lewis Hamilton – missed races, but if he did, the timing might get a little uncomfortable for Silverstone. The hearing is April 29, very shortly before the Spanish GP. If handed a three race ban on April 29, it could be for Monaco, Turkey and British GP, the last at Silverstone, in June.

BAR were banned with immediate effect and forced to miss the next two races in the calendar after the decision, which were Spain and Monaco. They were also excluded from San Marino, the race where the illegal fuel collector system was discovered. Hamilton has already been excluded from Australia, where his offence occurred.

However BAR faced the international court of appeal, whereas McLaren face the World Motor Sport Council, who whacked them in 2007 over the spy story and who can issue more or less any punishment they see fit.

Exclusion from the constructors’ championship, or loss of constructors’ points again, as in 2007, remains the more likely option I believe, as that punishes the team and not the driver and carries a financial penalty as well, with loss of earnings from their share of the commercial revenues of the sport.

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Might a possible McLaren ban include Silverstone?
50 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Jonas Wunderman
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 5:24 pm 

    You’ve gone all tabloid on us again James.

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: Tobias Stuyts
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 5:33 pm 

    I’m a big fan of your writing. Your stories are always nice to read, even for a person with little time to spare like me.

    On Autosport today there was an interesting article stating that, when Charlie Whiting asked to confirm the statement made by Ryan and Hamilton, they indeed confirmed. Doesn’t that make Hamilton responsible as well?

    I honestly believe that Hamilton was dragged into the matter, but surely he knows what he did. I don’t have pity with sanctions that might follow for both the team and Hamilton, although a world championship ban of both the driver and the constructor seem very harsh to me.

    [Reply]


  3.   3. Posted By: tEQUILLA sLAMMER
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 5:34 pm 

    who cares? does it matter? Its like throwing a dart at a picture of Elton John on your dartboard and worrying whether you hit his nose or got him in the eyeball….

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: JBfan
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 5:34 pm 

    A loss of points will not be such a bad thing at the moment. I do not realize how they could take away points from future. So points would really only be lost from China and Bahrain and under normal circumstances, to collect a total of more than 10 points would be good!!

    I fear a race ban also, but the more I read about this story the more I worry.

    As much as I am a Mclaren fan, it is clear they are at fault in this case, and to me, far more than the sky-scandal (which imo was an utter joke and witch hunt against Mclaren). A race ban missing monaco would not favour the sponsors.

    A financial penalty, depending on how bad would not be the best of things considering the need for cost cutting.

    Not a good start to Martins life at the top of Mclaren eh?!

    btw, like others have said, this is a great source of F1 news and updates, and it is nice to get the opinion of someone who is right in thick of the action. The twitter updates are also fantastic and informative.

    Must say, not the greatest fan of the commentary, except I did love Hungary 06! However your journalism is supurb!! I look forward to the updates throughout what is looking to be a fantastic season.

    [Reply]


  5.   5. Posted By: Pete
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 5:39 pm 

    I know it appears that Lewis is going to get away with very little punisment on this, but don’t you think it puts a slightly different perspective on the whole affair now that Autosport have run a story that says that BOTH Ryan and Hamilton refused to change their story about having deliberately let Jarno Trulli through at the Australian Grand Prix, despite being played radio conversations and media interviews that suggested the contrary in their second stewards’ hearing at Sepang?

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: Paige Michael-Shetley
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 5:46 pm 

    McLaren will not be banned from races simply because of the negative commercial impact from Lewis Hamilton missing grands prix. Bernie will see to it that he’s in the races. The team will either be excluded from earning constructors’ championship points for a number of races or will be banned entirely from the constructors’ championship, and there will certainly be some sort of financial penalty levied against them.

    In other McLaren news, they apparently have significant updates coming for Shanghai. Should be interesting to see if they get a performance boost from them.

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Al27
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 5:47 pm 

    BAR had two illegal cars, whereas a McLaren ban in this instance would be massively unfair on poor innocent Kovalainen, who is nothing to do with any of this.

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: Chris C
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 5:54 pm 

    I’ve been thinking the same today. I’m certain they won’t be banned from races, I would think the team will be punished therefore allowing only the drivers to score points.

    The question I’m thinking is can Mclaren once again take a financial hit again? Prob a fine plus the loss of revenue through points?

    They will survive but will this affect future development?

    If I was Anthony Hamilton I would be wondering if Mclaren will be able to provide competitive cars in the future! Maybe a budget cap of 30m WILL help them after all.

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: Chris
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 6:05 pm 

    I know it could be seen as an over-reaction, but I would if McLaren would consider just pulling out of the sport altogether if handed a particularly harsh penalty? I’m not condoning what they did, but other teams have been ‘flexible’ with the rules in the past and not punished so severely, and McLaren have had a great number of decisions go against them in the past few years, which I’ve no doubt contributed to their behaviour in Melbourne.

    As much as I like the team, and the drivers, part of me wants to see them stick two fingers up to the FIA and leave F1 completely, just to see how the FIA/Bernie would react.

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: Phil W
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 6:31 pm 

    If I was running a world-class racing operation with two top drivers and suddenly found myself with a gap in my programme during the month of May what would I do? Mmm?

    I hear they run an interesting event at a small-time speedway over in the state of Indiana about that time…

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  11.   11. Posted By: marilyn
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 7:14 pm 

    If they receive bans from races, or exclusion then so be it. What I hope is that lessons will be learnt and they will clean up their act. I’m not surprised Lewis considering quitting, it might be better for him to put F1 behind him and move on. Every day the revelations get worse, I can’t see how he can ride this one.

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  12.   12. Posted By: Kris
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 7:38 pm 

    Just seems to be getting a bit out of hand. By the rationale being banded around, any infringement of the rules can be interpreted as fraudulent. Any advantage is worth points, and thus, money.

    By all accounts though, Mclaren aren’t making it easier for people to give them the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know if Santander have made their intention not to renew their deal after this season (I know it was strongly rumoured after the Alonso ordeal) but its hard to see what motivation the big sponsors will have to continue backing the team. Obviously a successful car and big-name driver helps offset this but a slow car, essentially with just one reliable driver, isn’t the most appealing of propositions.

    I think Hamilton does need to stay with Mclaren until the end of his contract. It would just be too easy for his critics if he walked out at the first sign of trouble. I’d be very interested to see where he ends up if he did leave. I personally would love to see him at Ferrari with Alonso. Obviously not likely to happen but it’d be great to see a similar situation to that of Prost-Senna in the 90s. Arguably the best two drivers in the best car. It’d be a beautiful thing.

    I wonder if there’s a chance of him joining Red Bull. Seems like Vettel is destined for Ferrari and Hamilton’s image seems to fit with the Red Bull brand… young, different, exciting, risky.

    [Reply]


  13.   13. Posted By: Ben G
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 8:04 pm 

    I agree – the more I hear of this the more I think Lewis is equally to blame. I don’t buy this idea that he was ‘misled’. He is the World Champion and effective team leader, and should from the outset have told the truth.

    And I’m afraid the angry dad routine of Anthony Hamilton strikes me as discourteous and unprofessional.

    I fear this will turn into a chance for Max to nail Ron, and that he will succeed.

    I’m a great Lewis fan, but if I was Ron, I’d be tempted to sack him for bringing the team into disrepute, and start again with Bruno Senna.

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: Brian G
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 8:32 pm 

    Perhaps another reason for Lewis’s mea culpa press conference and his ‘get out of jail free card’.

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: Boston F1 Fan
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 8:53 pm 

    - It would be very interesting if McLaren were banned from Silverstone. Vodafone, Johnny Walker, Santander, and Mercedes-Benz have huge presence in the UK and to miss this race would be devastating. I say that it would be interesting because it would show that the F1 circus puts ethics above commercial interests; that is, the potential disappointment for these sponsors does not outweigh the WMSC’s decision.

    [Reply]


  16.   16. Posted By: Knobhead
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 9:02 pm 

    I’ve heard his dad will start a new, budget capped team called “Super Anthony F1″

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: Clackers
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 9:29 pm 

    Vettel won’t go to Ferrari for a while yet, although I agree that he will end up there one day. It’s Vettel’s ambition to drive for Ferrari, he said as much a few months ago.

    James, can you tell me about Vettel’s contract with Red Bull? How long is it for? Is it watertight? Because he could effectively replace Massa at Ferrari in 2011, if I am right in presuming he is contracted to Red Bull in 09/10.

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: Blip
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 10:07 pm 

    Off topic I know, but why haven’t McLaren appealed about the diffusers? Do they have something of their own ready to deploy..?

    [Reply]


  19.   19. Posted By: Grabyrdy
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 10:16 pm 

    McL have certainly shot themselves in the foot here, but the fact remains any draconian penalty will win them lots of sympathy. If Max is canny, he’ll go lightly.

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: P King
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 10:31 pm 

    I agree with those who have suggested that McLaren & Lewis should walk away from F1 and let the FIA plus Bernie get on with it without McLaren.

    As it is now, Lewis is just too afraid to do anything on the track in case he gets penalised. He just cannot race any more. No more fun in the game. Best to get out now.

    [Reply]


  21.   21. Posted By: Stephen Kellett
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 10:48 pm 

    brand… young, different, exciting, risky.

    Since when is a carefully groomed and manufactured person risky?

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: Mark
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 11:02 pm 

    Bernie will never allow McLaren to sit out a British GP, much less the potentially last one run at Silverstone. I think there would be a measurable commercial impact of reduced TV viewers, and Bernie is coin operated. Any other GP, sure, but not the British.

    And penalizing the team is all well and good, but let’s not forget that Lewis was not some doe-eyed innocent in this. His ‘mea not-quite-culpa-because-i-was-misled’ confession was surely great drama, but totally off the mark.

    He got caught in a lie. He’s not the first to lie in F1, and won’t be the last, but the next time he tries something like this, he may want to keep in mind that radio transmissions and telemetry are difficult to contradict.

    Now, back to racing.

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: Ace
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 11:16 pm 

    Hamilton won’t leave McLaren. Let’s face it, they’re a perfect match. :)

    [Reply]


  24.   24. Posted By: Mutt & Jeff
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 11:17 pm 

    Whilst I appreciate that what they tried to do was dishonest & really unfair to Trulli, surely the shame for Lewis & loss of job for Davey combined with the lost result is punishment enough? They already have many hurdles to jump this season, why start taking actions against them which in some way start costing them money…it could lead to job losses in Woking. :-(
    I feel that a suspended sentence is all that is needed to keep them in line.
    I do feel that the appalling decisions made against Lewis/McLaren last year were probably responsible for Lewis & Davey’s ‘We’re owed this’ attitude. :-(

    Let’s move on & enjoy the season! :-)

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: pbyrne
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 11:33 pm 

    I’d say loss of constructors points more likely with no effect on drivers WDC and no race bans. The Hamiltons have been careful to get Max on their side and anyhows Bernie will be nervous that a Lewis no-show will effect box-office.

    I’ll be really peed if the FIA are try to have their cake and eat it – by crucifying McLaren but whitewashing sneaky, back-stabbing, Lewis’ involvement.

    Sorry if that comes across as anti-Hamilton but no point sitting on the fence! I wouldn’t mind if he was an uncompromising, unapologetic b*****d like Senna & Schumi could sometimes be. It’s the sickly-sweet, butter-wouldn’t-melt image he tries to portray that makes me nauseous

    Lieing is one thing, it’s the weasely finger-pointing as Dave Ryan that gets my goat…

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: Robin Capper
        Date: April 9th, 2009 @ 11:39 pm 

    ” the team will be punished therefore allowing only the drivers to score points”?

    There was a driver inolved in this wasn’t there?

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: Colin
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 12:00 am 

    Being written before our eyes… McLaren: The Opera

    “Great minds against themselves conspire
    And shun the cure they most desire.”
    Act III, Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell

    Or is it a pantomime?

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: Fergie1
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 1:02 am 

    Had already thought of this happening and im sure me and many others would raise hell at Silverstone if this happened.

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: HR
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 1:04 am 

    James,

    I won’t be at all upset if you don’t publish this comment, but please pop over and read Joe Saward’s latest blog.

    Please, a sense of proportion is needed from those who really understand the big picture.

    If they banned everyone who has ever lied from F1, the grid would be empty as would the press room and the paddock.

    Surely, enough already!

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: Roberto
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 1:41 am 

    I’m sorry for Hamilton, he made a huge mistake denying it the second time even with video and radio evidence. Everybody makes mistakes, sometimes bigger than others, but i think the whole thing about Mclaren for the last two years will have a big influence, so maybe 2 race bans will apply.

    I think the pressure of a car that’s not going anywhere is taken a huge toll on him, it’s his third year, maybe he will need to call M Schumacher and ask him one or two questions about how to hang in there to win 6 World Championships more.

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: Roberto
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 1:45 am 

    If they don’t get a race ban is because they will fear Mercedes can pull the plug anytime, even if they have so much invested; read what Haug has said recently, and Doctor Zietsche will be happy to slice mre costs…

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: Filipe Viola
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 1:58 am 

    If the World Council hands McLaren a race ban penalty it would be unfair for Kovalainen and could indeed risk his career at F1, coming from 2 non-finishes and a possible 2 or 3 race bans will put aside his chances of a good overall result in 2009, he should not be punished.
    F1 is going down slowly with all this type of scandals, im affraid 20 cars on the start grid could very well turn into 18 for 2010.

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: jamie
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 2:25 am 

    Dont see why hekki would need to be brought into this, Cant they just impose either fines, docking points or bans just onto hamiltons car or whom ever the people that were involved with the incident, Instead of making a farce out of the situation. Plus wouldnt the whole banning of Mclaren be bad for the sport with viewers tv revenues and circuit attendences from their millions of fans (im a ferrari fan by the way).

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  34.   34. Posted By: M__E
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 3:20 am 

    Exclusion from the constructors’ championship, or loss of constructors’ points again, as in 2007, remains the more likely option I believe, as that punishes the team and not the driver and carries a financial penalty as well, with loss of earnings from their share of the commercial revenues of the sport.

    You would think, but like you say james thats what was done in 2007 over the spy scandal, and they dont seem to have learned their lesson, just like certain criminals who do unacceptable crimes, we give them a slap on the wrist and let them out to do it again, but they re-offend and back inside again, just like civil prosecution formula one punishments need to be bad enough to make even the most tempting bad decision (for teams) a no brainer, i.e. dont do it or else, you will be thrown out of the sport on your ear, the same should be for the criminal justice system…bring back the death penalty and reduce what crimes warrant it! :-) Having a half arsed approach to “law of the jungle” v’s “social” mentality will always be a thorn in the side of a harmonic life system, we need to make a stand on one side or the other, its just confusing otherwise!

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  35.   35. Posted By: M__E
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 3:29 am 

    I think Hamilton does need to stay with Mclaren until the end of his contract. It would just be too easy for his critics if he walked out at the first sign of trouble

    I think he has done that already? the spy scandal remember? he has no ‘obligations’ of conscience to McLaren now. They farmed him (yeah you can read that as framed if you like xD ), he won them a world championship in return, and if they hadnt screwed around with Ferrari data, no one would be having this debate…he’s a free man, and totally entitled to walk at the end of the season. Mid season? No! that WOULD make it too easy for the critics, he ‘deserves’ a tough year after all the success he has had, and will be good for his hunger in the long run…eliminating ‘rich kids’ syndrome.

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  36.   36. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 5:47 am 

    As much as anything because they have enough going on anyway, getting their car up to speed and now this ‘problem’

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  37.   37. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 5:48 am 

    Clackers, not sure, he’s been involved with Red Bull company for a while, he negotiates his own contracts, by the way. No manager, just him and a lawyer. Very impressive young man. Ferrari have their eye on him, you are right.

    [Reply]


  38.   38. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 6:48 am 

    and Bernie is coin operated

    Excellent description of his persona! However the largest audience for the Silverstone GP is surely the UK. Where there is no TV advertising this year.

    Most of the tickets are pre-sold and paid for by now, so the take on the gate in the day may be a bit down, but If BRDC have any sense they will reduce the gate entrance price to a reasonable level and maybe provide free campsites. This will help get the attendance back up again, important for all the vendors and concessionaires who have paid a fortune to be allowed to sell Hog Roast etc.

    I stopped going to Silverstone after a certain Mr TW joined the board and the prices went up by 50%. Our group that went on Thursday afternoon and camped for the 3 nights said “he is taking the *iss we will stay at home and listen to Murrayism’s.” And yer know what? No one got sunburned to a cooked lobster colour, no one got too drunk and fell into the fire, no one dropped their food in the mud, no one got soaked through or fell asleep during the race, no gas cylinders exploded or windscreens cracked, no washing up bowls melted. True we did miss getting locked inside the circuit and having to climb over the fence to get out at 3am, but yer have to make sacrifices.

    [Reply]


  39.   39. Posted By: Zera
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 8:00 am 

    One way or the other, I think the real loser in all this is Heikki. He obviously had nothing to do with what happened at the Aus GP, and now it seems like a possible ban is hanging in the air. His chances for the WDC are like zero due to this. Great job, McLaren, great job. *unhappy*

    [Reply]


  40.   40. Posted By: mingojo
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 8:25 am 

    I guess Ron is asking himself “why I didn’t support Fernando in 2007″?.

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  41.   41. Posted By: Mon Pen
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 9:32 am 

    Talk about a mountain out of a molehill. McLaren messed up and ‘fesed up. They behaved like idiots but to be hounded like this not knowing if they’ll be racing at Silverstone, Monaco, you name it seriosly undermines the sport. I’m no McLaren fan but I’d be serious about ripping up my Monaco tickets if there are any cars missing from the grid.

    I should have chucked Max into the harbour when I had the chance in 2006…..

    [Reply]


  42.   42. Posted By: Alan
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 10:38 am 

    Alan
    From my recollection Martin Whitmarsh said on TV “The trace shows Lewis did not slow down” if this is true and MacLaren can prove it then Trulli must have accelerated which is almost a certainty if he was returning to the race track from the grass. All the stewards needed to do, was to look at the telemetry from both cars and base their decision on the facts, not who said what to whom. If Lewis slowed, he is guilty, if Trulli accelerated and Lewis maintained his speed then Jarno made the error.
    To my mind the rest is political BS and the FIA should see themselves in the dock for being incompetent and continually bringing the sport into disrepute. This farce reminds me of that classical comedy sketch by Abott & Costello “Who’s on First”. Come on FIA have a word with yourself, you are beginning to look ridiculous.

    [Reply]


  43.   43. Posted By: Mike
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 1:53 pm 

    What makes it reasonable to assess this case as fraud is the possibility that a bogus complaint was made to the stewards in an attempt to gain an extra place in the race results. We can’t have teams and drivers pulling stunts behind the safety car as part of an attempt to try to get other drivers DQd. I don’t think they did the stunt on the track – they did that afterwards with the stewards – however an incorrect ruling will encourage ambiguous driver behaviour behind the safety car in the future (and you can be sure they won’t be dumb enough to say anything obvious over the radio because they’ll have a codeword in place).

    [Reply]


  44.   44. Posted By: Mike
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 1:57 pm 

    [i] Or is it a pantomime [/i]
    Ooooh not it isn’t!

    [Reply]


  45.   45. Posted By: Confused
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 4:44 pm 

    James, I have to say. I am bitterly disappointed in McLaren’s actions here. Can you see any logic in risking a possible 3 race ban and the bad publicity for the sake of a handful of points? I know that even just a point difference can have financial benefits for the team and McLaren is a competition team by nature, but this whole situation smacks of utter stupidity.

    I have already paid to see a number of GPs this year and I wonder whether I will get to see Lewis race at any of them. The politics of F1 is overshadowing the “sport”. Although I agree McLaren should be punished, I believe they have already paid a heavy price already – loss of reputation, being stripped of points etc. Anything more could be construed as a witchhunt against McLaren. The punishment just doesn’t seem to fit the crime. Do you think there are other motives?

    *sighs*

    [Reply]


  46.   46. Posted By: links for 2009-04-10 « vee8 - a Formula 1 blog
        Date: April 10th, 2009 @ 5:04 pm 

    [...] Might a possible McLaren ban include Silverstone? – James Allen on F1 (tags: mclaren WMSC fia australiangrandprix stewards lewishamilton exclusion disqualification britishgrandprix) [...]


  47.   47. Posted By: M__E
        Date: April 11th, 2009 @ 3:21 am 

    “I think the real loser in all this is Heikki”
    yes agreed, Heikki is a loser as he showed last year…
    “His chances for the WDC are like zero”
    :-) :-) :-) so he’s no worser off then as a result of all this! just what point are you trying to make here! Zzzzzz…

    [Reply]


  48.   48. Posted By: JohnBt
        Date: April 11th, 2009 @ 4:52 pm 

    What a downer, sure wouldn’t like to see Hamilton and McLaren go down in this manner. An anti-climax for China’s race. DejaVuish.

    [Reply]


  49.   49. Posted By: Alianora La Canta
        Date: April 12th, 2009 @ 12:58 pm 

    Another thought along the same lines – one of the campsites near Silverstone is called Hamilton Fields. What will they do if Hamilton isn’t coming because of a ban?

    [Reply]


  50.   50. Posted By: The Artist
        Date: April 12th, 2009 @ 2:11 pm 

    Actually, on this occasion, Sato’s car was not found to be illegal – only Button’s!

    [Reply]

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