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The next stage in McLaren-gate
Posted By:   |  06 Apr 2009   |  7:43 am GMT  |  83 comments

As the teams return to the UK and the dust begins to settle on an explosive weekend, we start to contemplate the next stage in the saga over Lewis Hamilton and McLaren ‘deliberately misleading’ the stewards.

The feeling on Saturday was that Hamilton’s frank and astonishing ‘mea culpa’, held in the FIA press conference room, was enough to satisfy the FIA. McLaren, however, still have a lot more explaining to do.

“We recognise Lewis’s efforts to set the record straight today,” an FIA spokesman told Reuters.

“It would appear that he was put in an impossible position. We are now awaiting reports from the FIA observer and stewards before consideration can be given to further investigation of his team’s conduct.”

This is ominous. If I was McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh I’d be feeling the trapdoor beneath my feet starting to slip on its hinges a little.

On Sunday morning Whitmarsh revealed that his own future was on the agenda as part of a review of the whole episode, as McLaren prepares to face the music from the FIA.

“In the longer term I can contemplate my own future. Of course it is not self-determining, it’s for the shareholders of this team to take a view and that’s something they have to decide what’s the best thing. I’m not resigning this weekend. We’ve made a commitment to look at how we arrived in this situation and we’ve got to learn from it and we’ve got to better in future.”

The problem for McLaren is that Whitmarsh is the heir apparent, the man groomed by Ron Dennis for the last 20 years to take over. Below him there’s not another dauphin. Whitmarsh is only 50 years old – although he’s probably aged another 10 this weekend – and beneath him there are layers of management, but no-one with hands on racing experience or experience of dealing with FIA and FOM. The next in command is Jonathan Neale, a very competent COO, but not team principal in waiting. If Whitmarsh goes they will almost certainly have to recruit someone.

The list of questions Whitmarsh is likely to face from the FIA is examined by Ed Gorman in The Times blog. He raises some questions that Whitmarsh needs to answer about the scape-goating of Dave Ryan and about what happened between Sunday’s meeting with the stewards and his own appearance before the media on Thursday, when he denied that lies had been told.

Ed writes; “It is easy to imagine Hamilton and Ryan making things up between themselves and going into the room and saying something they should never have done. But the part that stretches credibility to breaking point is the idea that after Melbourne and before the pair were summoned back before the stewards on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur, that no-one else in the team was made aware of what they had said and what was going on. It is important to appreciate that when Ryan and Hamilton went back to the stewards in Sepang they both continued to lie and to stick to their story from Melbourne. This has been confirmed both by McLaren and the FIA. It beggars belief that, in a team like McLaren which has been taught by Ron Dennis to think in a complex and often self-defeating way about even the most simple problems, that this critical issue would not have been more widely discussed by senior management before they went back in and approved by those people (or maybe not approved by some of them).

“McLaren being caught lying through the actions of Ryan and Hamilton is one thing; if it turns out that they have properly scapegoated Ryan and lied again about who knew about what was going on, I would fear for the consequences on their behalf. The FIA is not going to like that at all. The Times does in fact have an admission of sorts on this issue but it would be improper to report it here at this stage.”

Whitmarsh said on Sunday that he had been on a couple of days’ holiday after Melbourne, his wife was with him, and that was why he’d not been on top of the situation. I think that he probably hadn’t realised the full picture and was a little complacent.

Expect word very soon from the FIA as to when the hearing will be set for a deeper examination of this episode. McLaren was warned about its future conduct at the end of the spy scandal in 2007.

Have you noticed how quiet FOTA has been on this issue? No words of support. The teams’ spirit of brotherhood and togetherness does not extend to defending a brother, who shoots himself in the foot as spectacularly as McLaren has done.

The other teams are upset with McLaren for acting with such stupidity. It has done nothing for their cause.

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83 Comments
  1. martin says:

    I wondered if the whole saga would lead to Mercedes considering an outright purchase so they can make the management decisions. Would Norbert Haug be team principal material?

  2. Joe says:

    As stupid as McLaren’s been in trying to gain a tiny fraction of advantage by lying to the stewards, this is getting out of proportion now.

    The fact of the matter is that the FIA and the stewards made a huge mistake to begin with, and they shouldn’t have needed the input from McLaren at all to begin with. They have the telemetry, they had the radio traffic. It is clear from the telemetry data that Hamilton let up so much that he practically forced the Toyota to pass him and the radio traffic backs this up. There is NO EXCUSE for the stewards to make the wrong call. Now they’re trying to cover that up by putting the onus on McLaren.

    Let bygones be bygones.

  3. MorrisOx says:

    McLaren’s only hope is to act before the FIA does. It isn’t in the sport’s interests to destroy the team (and another big penalty from the FIA would surely leave it in some trouble), so the team has to act first.

    Suspending Davy boy is NOT the answer.

  4. I can remember when I first fell in love with McLaren, it was way back in 1988 and all due to a young Brazlian joining the team. Needless to say he didn’t disapoint in any area.
    Mika Hakkinen was also a pleasure to watch driving a McLaren, as was a young Kimi (to a lesser degree). But sadly the last few years have been a real struggle given the constant idiocies that have gone on in the team.
    I’m a fan of Ron Dennis and admire his approach to business but I also think the team are treated unfairly by the F.I.A.. can anyone remember the rear brake steer system that was approved, only for an Italian team to throw there toys out of the pram in Brazil for Mclaren to receive instructions to remove the system as it was considered dangerous.
    As for this story James, I would like to be able to read the notes taken (or not as it seems) by the F.I.A. It all seems very convenient that nobody had a note pad to record what was said.
    Still as much as I disliked Brawn at the Italian team I’m know warming to him and Button at Brawn GP. Which just shows that fans will only put up with “so” much from Mclaren before they shift there support towards another team, which is a shame.

  5. lock_down says:

    For the FIA, this seems like a perfect opportunity to drive a larger wedge between the FOTA teams by continuing to hammer McLaren hard.

    It’s a shame that constant politics, agendas and power grapples continue to engulf F1.

    McLaren have been stupid though. This came, they can’t blame anyone but themselves.

  6. Moog says:

    Argh! Another *-gate in F1, can’t we find other words? We’ve had Indy-gate, Spy-gate, Alonso-gate, Moseley-gate and so on. Now Liegate/Mclaren-gate!

  7. Hahs says:

    First of all FIA have to establish the rear diffuser problem, and after that to take in consideration the “scandal” in what the McLaren Team entered by their own fault. My opinion is that Lewis in perfectly innocent, why? because he is an employee, like he said, and if the employer put`s you on a ackward position you have to deal with it. I think that the public apoligies and that the pos. 3 had been taken is enough.
    And 1 question: why did the stewards didn`t answer when the Team ask what to do when Trulli past Lewis???they had 3-4 laps to answer… best regards.

  8. PaulL says:

    Well Hamilton said he followed Dave Ryan’s advice because he always follows the team’s instructions, but he didn’t follow the order to let Alonso through in Hungary 07 qualifying as per the McLaren’s so-called equality principles.

    I thought he could have acknowledged his part in the problem better, as in communicating that he is responsible for his choices and made the wrong one. Everyone makes mistakes and nobody should feel bad about making them, but it did seem like he was passing the buck too much on to Dave who does appear to have been scapegoated.

  9. Myles Jee says:

    Has anyone bother to find out Dave Ryan’s side of the story or is everyone just going to believe Hamilton’s account of the whole affair? Sometimes lies are told to cover up lies and the fact that he has lied once, why has everyone (especially the British reporters) so willing believed him this time?

  10. Spike says:

    I hope McLaren pays and pays dear. This is too soon after Spy-gate.
    And for once I agree with Ed Gorman. This stinks to high-heaven. No way a control freak team like McLaren knew nothing about it! Corruption and lies galore and someone must pay!

  11. Andy Fov says:

    Based on some of the totally inexplicable decisions that have come out of the stewards office in recent years, have McLaren been suckered into believing that lying to get the outcome you’re after is the way it’s done?

    I won’t deny I’ve lost a lot of respect for McLaren, and it hurts. I spent the cash my Nan left me on a rather expensive watch with McLaren branding – Am feeling that particular heirloom has lost some of its worth this weekend. :(

    What they did was wrong and unsporting, though if I knew it was only ever their intention to bump Trulli back to 4th I’d be a bit more forgiving.

    Am I alone though in thinking the subsequent reaction is a bit disproportionate? This seems to have generated more noise than some of Schumi’s more epic stunts, and this to my way of thinking is no more unsporting than that parking in Monaco qually incident – Or am I missing the point?

    PS – Finally I’ve found a purpose for Twitter. Good work over the weekened James, thanks.

  12. Thomas in Adelaide says:

    What are the odds of Ron stepping back in for the remainder of the season?

  13. Aaron James says:

    James, please come back to TV Commentary and save us!!

    Legard seems like a nice chap, but the error count is skyhigh (and YOU were critisised for errors, despite the fact you didnt make many) and some other reasons.

    We need the JA and MB partnership back!

  14. Albo says:

    I still find it hard to grasp that all of this has come from McLaren trying to act as responsibly and honestly as possible on the track.

    Let us not forget, they asked Charlie Whiting what they should do, he never came back to them. If they had answered McLaren in a timely fashion, then none of this would have happened. I know that does not excuse what McLaren did after that, but it would have removed the opportunity.

    The FIA should have more than one race director or consultant in place. The teams should be able to get an answer promptly even when an incident occurs, so if Charlie is tied up, then another consultant can advise.

    Also, the stewards should have been able to make a decision on who was 3rd and 4th without even consulting radio transmissions. Its clear as day who should rightfully have been 3rd and 4th.

    It doesnt look good for McLaren. If its a severe punishment, i can see them racing and not being allowed to score constructors points. Financailly damaging. They already have had enough damage from this, and the sponsor implications are big enough as it is. If the FIA want McLaren in F1, they need to act responsibly, otherwise i can see 2010 without the McLaren F1 team which would be a huge and irreplaceable loss.

  15. Peter says:

    IMHO this whole thing has been blown out of proportions, massively.

  16. Colin says:

    Mr. Whitmarsh should tender his resignation as a matter of honour and Mr. Dennis and Partners should reject it.

    Then Mr. Dennis needs to return to “assist”.

  17. Lee S says:

    I’ve got a funny feeling there hasn’t really been bias against Mclaren for the last few years whereas up until this season I guess the television has led me to believe everyone was agains’t them. The way the bbc is stanced they are correctly showing Mclaren as cheats like they should have done in 2007 but instead chose to focus on trying to make the entire population of the uk hate Alonso instead back then to detract from the real issue of a British driver cheating with a British team cheating but that would have been a decision taken by itv no doubt. To be honest I’m glad all the traditional top drivers are at the bottom of the pile.

  18. rpaco says:

    “The Times does in fact have an admission of sorts on this issue but it would be improper to report it here at this stage.”

    Meaning “I have just stuck a knife in you but I am not telling you yet where you are bleeding” A sort of equivalent of damming by faint praise, perhaps, convicting with a subtle knife and a smile. (Apologies to Philip Pullman for out of context use)

    This could/should escalate into a full investigation and the FIA interviewing all personnel in McLaren, how else will they decide if the whole situation revolves around lying?

    How will they get to the truth since by now all employees will have been “instructed” quietly/privately in what to say when approached?

    Thus there is no way that any investigation can possibly be successful in determining the truth if the premise is that whoever lied will continue to do so. So ultimately the FIA have to go back and act on the event rather than the extent. Disqualification for the season I would expect, since how can they be trusted ever again?

    It may be true that only Ryan and Hamilton lied but how can that be proved? Impossible!

    Let us also not forget that most probably the majority of the other teams have also lied on several occasions. Is being caught the crime? My middle class upbringing says “No, the lie is the crime.”

    But morality has changed 180 degrees in many areas in the last 10 years (Thanks Tony) with people now persecuted for holding ideas only 15 years ago considered the pinnacle of upright morality.

  19. Geoff says:

    This does seem more like the FIA going for the kill on Mclaren to try and disrupt the FOTA, rather than addressing an issue of any consequence.

    F1 proving yet again it is a game of politics, with the occasional motor race to stir the pot.

    The real issue, which is being ignored, is why the stewarding has been so poor.

  20. mingojo says:

    James, don’t you think Alonso has got a point here? During his spell in Mclaren he mentioned that they had treated him really bad and recently he mentioned to Spanish press that Mclaren had lied when he had been there (Hungary).
    It seems that MM has been caught this time.
    About Lewis he dissapointed me about blaming David Ryan, he is an adult a I guess his press conference in Malaysia was a bit of PR stuff.

  21. Jon says:

    I’m not sure what FOTA can say or do. FOTA is a partnership or unity of the teams for the betterment of the future of the sport. Things like the cost cutting, improving things for the fans etc.

    What are FOTA supposed to say? “McLaren are very sorry Max, you should leave them alone now”. As far as I know, no one has commented on the McLaren situation fullstop. Other then Alonso, to stick the knife in. There isn’t really anything anyone can say, only McLaren knows how this situation every came to be.

    I agree with Peter in that it’s all blown out of porportion, both against Lewis, and McLaren but unfortunately others higher up in the sport don’t see it that way.

  22. MartinWR says:

    I must be naive or something, maybe someone dropped me on my head when I was a baby, I don’t remember, but I am still absolutely baffled at the idea going around that
    “Hamilton has paid his dues”.
    Let’s get the facts straight. Firstly this business wasn’t a case of being economical with the truth, as has been said frequently, not least by the BBC. It was a case of purposely lying to the stewards to gain a single championship point, as the record shows. But much, much, worse than that, it also meant kicking Trulli in the teeth and depriving him and Toyota, quite happily, of six points each. Words fail me on that count alone.
    Well did the culprits own up of their own accord? Absolutely not, they only owned up because they were found out. Otherwise they would still be benefitting from the lie, especially Hamilton much more than Ryan.
    In what way can Hamilton be said to have paid his dues? Well he made an apparently apologetic noise which on closer inspection wasn’t an apology at all because he insisted on blaming Dave Ryan who has been made the sole scapegoat by McLaren, no doubt with the connivance of the F1 ruling establishment. That might be OK if he was a nobody, but for goodness sake he is supposed to be the “world champion”, an ambassador for the sport, paid a fortune, and not a baby in nappies. How can a barefaced liar, who has gone totally unpunished be an ambassador for the sport? Well apparently, that is his idea of being an honest man, so it doesn’t trouble him.
    He didn’t even make the slightest effort at the time to apologise to Trulli and Toyota for doing his best to wrongfully deny them the points they earned, points which could make a huge difference to the outcome of the 2009 championship.
    And the substance of all this is that someone else, Ryan, is still carrying the can for him.
    I must admit that I come from a time when real men like Moss spoke up for their rivals, even if it even meant losing a championship. Obviously that is the reason that I don’t share the views of the vast majority of British fans on this subject, I’m simply an boring anachronism.

  23. Paul says:

    McLaren really don’t help themselves. They’d like the world to think they’re squeaky clean, but the reality is that they are far far from it. Remember SpyGate? We’ve done nothing wrong was the noise that came out of McLaren, then the truth came out. The whole team should have got a ban for that, drivers included, it was a disgrace.

    So lets get a couple of things straight here. The FIA aren’t at fault, they haven’t lied. Saying that they should have looked at telemetry and so on isn’t the issue, if the team were asked a question and didn’t answer truthfully more fool them.

    I find it incredibly difficult to believe that only two people were aware of what was said to the Stewards, normally everyone is aware of these things at McLaren. If McLaren lied to cover that up then it’s worse than the first lie. Why’s it worse? Well Whitmarsh and Hamilton have consistently reiterated that only Lewis and Davey knew about this. If that’s not the case the team and Hamilton deserve everything they get I’m afraid. If their apologies on Friday also contained lies what little respect I have for McLaren & Hamilton will be gone completely.

  24. Graeme says:

    April Fool or Cover Up?

    Is there a whitewash underway (in the Richard-Nixon-Watergate use of the phrase) to protect Lewis from further action? And, more likely, to protect the sponsors and the box office.

    The tone of the FIA on Lewis has changed from “driver No 1 deliberately misled the Stewards” to “he was put in an impossible position”.

    The current spin being put on events is that David Ryan did all the lying and Lewis sat there embarrassed, nodding assent so as not to contradict his boss. But around April 1st, the German magazine Auto, Motor und Sport reported that Lewis claimed to the Stewards that “he only moved off the racing line because he was reading the safety car instructions from the steering wheel display”. That’s not a passive lie (pun intended).

    On first impressions a large circulation German magazine might want to embarrass a British driver and team, but would they want to put at risk future cooperation and advertising from Mercedes? Maybe they thought the Cologne based Toyota team would fill the gap, but the Cologne team could also have been the source of the leak given they were the other parties present in the original Stewards investigation.

  25. Jim Hughes says:

    James, it’d have been useful to link to Ed Gorman’s Times article, I think this is the article in question – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/formula_1/article6041026.ece

  26. Mark says:

    A few points…

    I believe that Hamilton, in his press conference, used the word ‘generally’ when saying he follows team instructions. So, not always then!

    McLaren management failed in that they should know the rules inside out on the pit wall so that when Hamilton asked for clarification, whilst in the car, they could have come up with the answer instantly.

    This episode suggests to me that ‘McLaren’ really don’t trust the stewards. Hamilton wanted to make sure he was doing the right thing in overtaking or dropping back. Then when heading to see the stewards the McLaren pair were in the position that third position was rightfully theirs. Didn’t they trust that the stewards would see sense and award Hamilton 3rd and demote Trulli back to 4th? Instead, they lied to try and ensure they got what was rightfully theirs resulting in this horrible mess.

    Both McLaren and Hamilton have already been punished by the loss of 6 points. I don’t see why Hamilton’s apology is worth more than Whitmarsh’s apology on behalf of the team. If there is further punishment to come then both McLaren and Hamilton should be on the receiving end. Personally I think they should both get some sort of fine – to make an example of them as lying to the stewards is just not on – but not enough to cause serious pain. At the end of the day they were stupid but I don’t see any evidence – and never have – of the team being infected with a ‘cheating culture’.

    The Hamilton brand is taking a battering. He doesn’t seem to be liked much by the other drivers and the media. He isn’t the top Brit anymore. He is tainted by this episode. Will he ever recover to earn those super-mega-bucks that were predicted not so long ago?

    However, as a Hamilton and McLaren supporter I do hope this episode blows over as soon as possible and we can get back to the racing…

  27. Mark says:

    The notion that Ryan ‘acted alone’ is ridiculous. Anyone on the pit wall, and many in the garage wearing headsets heard Lewis say “I’ve let Trulli past”, as well as the instruction from the team to let him past. McLaren ceded P3 to Trulli. Trulli did not pass Hamilton.

    As soon as Trulli was given the 25 sec penalty for ‘passing under a safety car’, all those people who heard that conversation knew that the team had just lied and stolen P3 from Trulli.

    I understand that there was confusion about whether or not Lewis could keep his position during the SC after Trulli left the track. And Race Control needs to find a better way to communicate with the teams in these situations. But McLaren took a gamble, ironically, being more conservative because of their FIA legal issues. And the gamble failed. But they don’t get to change their bet after the fact, and that’s exactly what Hamilton, Ryan, and the rest of the Sr. folks did.

    Shame on them.

  28. SeaDog says:

    Here we go again, Mclaren in the wars but this is getting blown out of all proportion. As usual the press are building the situation into the eve of World War 3!

    I listened to a radio show last week relating to football, to be honest a sport very far from being a personal favourite. But as I keep hearing it being promoted ais our “National Sport” it is perhaps worth a mention.

    The gist of the interview was the fact that 7000 refs are leaving football every season due to varying degrees of abuse from the players on the pitch, (even down to school teams). Watch how players, or groups of players, race to a ref shouting, swearing and lying in quite often an intimidating way after a decision goes against them. Interstingly if this was to happen say in the street it could well be defined as assault. Add to this the illegal tackles, dives (known as professional fouls?) and it makes for quite a sorry bunch. This behaviour occurs and can be witnessed probably every day on the television, I believe the only term associated which such behaviour can be cheating. But that is our national sport, God help us. Compared to these guys Mclaren act like saints and promote a far better role model generally, so why are the press not broadsiding our fine upstanding footballers?

    So Mclaren seem to be caught with there pants down, Hami has been punished and no doubt the team will be as well. Fine, let’s move on, plenty of other teams get caught with their pants down and don’t receive penalties or media coverage to this extent. I honestly feel that the powers that be and the media are determined to stick the knife in every chance they get, perhaps Max and Bernie will only be happy when they have driven Mclaren out of F1.

    I really hope the press do not raise this issue into a frenzy giving the FIA license to dole out ludicrous sanctions. No doubt they are still smarting after Mclaren won the WDC after having a development freeze imposed on some areas last season. As a final point the stewards should not have made a decision without reviewing all the relevant evidence, it is pure stupidity to have done so and shows them not fit for prpose.

    Lets hope we can move on, slap their wrists if necessary, then lets get back to racing!

  29. Colster says:

    There’s a cancer in Mclaren.

    Regardless of what happened on the track, Lewis did lie to the stewards. He was asked directly if he was instructed to let Trulli pass to which he replied ‘No’.

    I could have forgiven him if he was in his rookie year, but he’s now World Champion and should have told it how it was.

    I’ve also lost respect for the team – they’ve found their scapegoat and hung him out to dry.

    What should have been a relatively simple matter for the Stewards to determine knowing that they’ve got access to telemetry and cockpit radio has now become a real disaster for Mclaren.

    I was at Melbourne in full Mclaren gear – it’s now going ebay!

    Come on Jenson!

  30. If the FIA were to disqualify Mclaren for the remainder of the year for an encouraged “error”, do you not think that the punishment out weighs the crime.

    What I want to know James, is how long before the Brawn GP car has a rather large 3 pointed star on it :-)

  31. Leo Allen says:

    It’s a very well known fact that every member of every team competing in modern F1 never tells a lie, is never dishonest or dissembling, always looks the other chap straight in the eye, never, ever tries to belittle their competitors or, heaven forefend, try to gain even the slightest advantage. That every member of every team was ( or still is ) a member of the boy scouts or similar organisation, always attends regular services at Church, Temple or Mosque and never, never, never drinks alchoholic beverages.

    And I am Napoleon Bonaparte.

  32. zamdrang says:

    The only position Hamiliton was put in was that he was caught. Easy to apologize now and pass the buck. Pathetic.

  33. Tommy Karamin says:

    I CAN’T BELIEVE ALL THOSE GUYS WHO SAY THEY FEEL SORRY FOR “POOR” TRULLI!!! WOW!!! ONE DAY EARLIER (IN QUALIFYING), WHO THE **** WAS LYING???? I THINK IT WAS TOYOTA!!! ILLEGAL REAR WING! DID THEY APOLOGISE TO MCLAREN AND THE WORLD CHAMPION FOR TRYING TO BEAT THEM BY CHEATING???? NOOO!!!! IF THE STEWARDS DIDN’T FIND OUT THEY WOULD RACE WITH ILLEGAL REAR WING AND THEY WOULDN’T EVEN WHISPER!!! JESUS…this is the nature of this sport!! do u like it?? fine!!! you don’t like it??? watch something else!! I agree with all those who say that it’s the stewards’ fault. they DIDN’T NEED McLaren to tell them what went right or wrong! they could see for themselves. after all, in 90% of the cases (an maybe more than that) they punish based on what they figure out themselves even for worse incidents than this!!!

  34. JP says:

    How much is Hamilton being paid? £5million, £10million? More than that? For that sort of moneyI would expect the driver to know exactly what to do when behind the safety car, in all circumstances. If the drivers don’t know because the regulation is not clear enough then there is something wrong with the regulation. As I said in another post the safety car regs are about safety and as such should be as clear as a very clear thing on a clear day. It should not need drivers to ask teams or teams to ask race control.
    As for cheating? Again none of this is about cheating it is about stupidity. “Cheating” has always gone on in F1 (and all other motorsport come to that). The good old days…rear wings that took 3 blokes to pick up before a car was weighed, water cooled brakes, etc etc. Even at well known exhibition type meetings(all gentlemen of course) some of those 60′s saloons look quicker than they should have been. It happens at every level
    Just a pity that, having spent a couple of hundred million on getting a couple of cars on the grid, neither McLaren nor Hamilton knew the regulations and they then compounded that by being stupid.

  35. JT says:

    I think it is irrelevant that the stewards didn’t have all the telemetry data etc. because McLaren went into the meeting with the objective to mislead and lie in the first place.

    Does anyone still believe Hamilton when he said he knew nothing about the whole spygate saga? Did McLaren tell him to lie to protect him?

  36. Mooks says:

    The way some people (and media) go on, it’s like there hasn’t been any deception before in any sport. Obviously, we don’t know the full story of who knows, who doesn’t know, and who came up with the idea for Ryan and Hamilton to lie to the stewards.

    What we do know is, Mclaren could face quite a hefty fine or ban etc. I don’t think many people have looked at the bigger picture. Where does that leave the rest of the team in the factory? What about those who sit in the factory, working over their contracted hours to make parts for the car, to try and squeeze tenths off the pace. They didn’t lie, decieve, or mislead the stewards. They could be the ones who suffer if the sponsors go elsewhere, if no money comes in from scoring points and winning.

    I don’t know how many people work for the team as a whole, but if Brawn redundances are anything to go by, this situation isn’t going to make things any easier for the guys back in the Mclaren factory.

    I’m not saying that the punishment should be waived, I thought I would highlight the bigger picture.

  37. vicweir says:

    Can someone please tell me who instigated the first stewards’ enquiry after the Australian race?

    Hamilton said that the only time he apologised to Trulli was as Trulli came out from giving his side of the racing events and LH and Ryan were waiting outside the door to give theirs. He said he apologised for all the mess of the enquiry.
    That sounds to me like McLaren requested it.

    True?

  38. Steve Rodgers says:

    I hope the FIA manages to see this for what it is: a storm in a tea cup. It seems bizarre that Davey and Lewis might try such a stunt when they would surely know that the stewards would have access to team voice recordings – not to mention the whole internet where their decisions get dissected on popular message boards like this.

    It’d be a shame to see the FIA go all draconian and impose any kind of ban, especially given the hard work and dedication from the hundreds of people who come together to make it all happen for the team.

    It would be an even greater shame to see the team go into meltdown and for Lewis to emulate the lost years of Button’s career

  39. Carrot1401 says:

    MartinWR and Colster, you 2 have got it spot on. He can blame Ryan as much as he likes but this guy is 24 and a world champion. Even if people upstairs did know about it and did tell him to lie with Ryan, this is a world champion.

    While many are saying ‘as an employee he should agree’ Hamilton could of easily said no and that he was going to tell the truth. Yes, it would of strained his relationship with the team , but I feel this incident is going to strain it much more. Afterall, if Hamilton told McLaren he would be stating the truth I dout they would of sacked him :-P

    Lying has its consequences…….

    P.S Great blog James, getting all my F1 mates to follow this, we do need you back in commentary :-)

  40. Matthew Dawson says:

    I find the whole situation desperately sad for F1 and for everyone at McLaren. I really hope this doesn’t affect McLaren in the long term.

  41. pSynrg says:

    Who on earth ever said F1 – ooh the white than white most honest to goodness bunch of wholesome folksy sport there is?

    This kind of stuff goes on all the time and this is hysteria over something very few people could claim never to have said everything they should.
    Ridiculous behaviour by all concerned from the Worlds Premier Motor Racing Show

    Move on already.

    The worst part about this is just how spineless the FIA has beaten McLaren into becoming and then beat them some more for good measure.

  42. sean says:

    James is there any chance you could ask any of the drivers if the new aero is making it easier to over take.We see kers cars pulling away from cars on the straights but as of yet haven’t see anyone stuck to someone’s gearbox then slingshot past on the straight or cars getting closer with a good tow.It was my thinking that the new rules would change all the processions . In the early stages of the race there wasn’t much happening,be interested too know.

  43. guy says:

    Hey everyone on a lighter note – our very own James allen comes in at no.2 in the all time list of funny tv ‘foul ups’!!

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/article2363195.ece

    Sorry James….

  44. krad says:

    Reading these comments is winding me up. Everyone is certain that macca and Lewis are guilty as hell. Maybe they are, but how can we tell?

    Where is the FIA transcript of the meeting?

    Until we know exactly what was said how can you judge on anyone’s guilt?

    Were they asked directly “did you let him past?”, or was it assumed they didn’t and they never stated “Actually we let him go”

    The FIA said they and the stewards were going to be transparent this year. Well there seems to be plenty of smoke at the moment.

  45. Paul says:

    I disagree, McLaren made an error of judgement letting Trulli re-pass Lewis. Lewis should have stuck to his guns and not let Trulli pass him again. It appears McLaren aren’t too clued up on the rules though, as again yesterday Mr Whitmarsh seemed to be under the impression that you need only complete 66% of the race distance in order to get full points. I know the rules and I’m sat on a sofa, the commentary team on TV know them too, so why does this guy need to ask Charlie all the time?

    Additionally not knowing the rules isn’t an excuse to intentionally lie either. Fundamentally your argument is rather flawed I’m afraid.

  46. Chris says:

    Some common sense at last.

    Many people are ignoring the facts.

    1 – The FIA gave mclaren no support in the race, mclaren tried to ask what needed to be done and got no response, yet the FIA are not under investigation for this.
    2 – Toyota were in the same boat they didnt know what to do either, so saying mclaren should know the rules is silly when other teams have the same problem with rules that change every year.
    3 – The impact on mclaren is already huge, they lost a 4th position, they may not get a top 4 again this year given the current car. They will have had a serious impact with sponsors with the on of bad publicity they got. Anyone wishing further punishment is just outright evil in my view and doesnt have the sports best interest at heart, further damage on mclaren could cause them to pull out with mercedes.

  47. rpaco says:

    You have reminded me of the time when my MD told one of our Taiwan major suppliers that the reason he could not have a certain section of our business was down to me. This was a complete lie and my confrontation with said MD went along the line of “I will use your name to say anything I want for the good of the company, if you don’t like it you can leave, BTW how’s your new large mortgage looking?” There being no comparable job opportunities in the area I stayed and endured, but this has reminded me to email Taiwan and put the record straight.

  48. rpaco says:

    How should they act? What can they do? Organise a show for charity perhaps?
    Anything they do will be seen as either deliberate attention diverting or plotting further to deveive.

    If Mr Whitmarsh falls on his sword out of possibly/probably unjustified guilt for the sake of public atonement it will only reinforce the idea that the fault went deeper than was exposed so far.

  49. Stephen Kellett says:

    Now Liegate/Mclaren-gate!

    That would McLieran-gate wouldn’t?

  50. Peter Freeman says:

    Well I must have been dropped on my head because from where I am standing the very fact that the FIA were looking to penalise anyone baffles me!

    No one did anything to deserve a penalty, all that the FIA needed to do was look at the footage and make a ruling as to who came 3rd and who came 4th. Instead THEY looked to give out penalties.

    What we don’t know is what Trulli said to the stewards. He did lie to his own team, as recored on the radio and broadcast on this site. He told them that Hamilton overtook under yellow flags. He did NOT tell them he had gone off!

    So did Trulli lie to the stewards as well?

    If he did lie to the stewards are you surprised Hamilton is not apologising to him?

    Conveniently the FIA have no record of exactly what was asked and said in the stewards investigation…

    You are also insinuating that Hamilton invented the story all on his own and ‘poor Dave’ had nothing to do with it. It IS likely that Hamilton followed Dave and NOT the other way round. It was Dave’s job to deal with the stewards, its Hamilton job to drive the car. So if Dave lead Hamilton, then I am afraid he is not a scapegoat, he is responsible!

    And no it is not right for Hamilton to lie. But he has apologised for HIS OWN role in this. I for one accept that!

  51. Spike says:

    You post is made of pure win and awesome. Finally some sense and truth. Thank you Martin for that.
    I wish I had been dropped on the head as a baby.

  52. Peter Freeman says:

    Did you here Trulli tell his team that Hamilton overtook him under yellow flags? It was on this site. He lied to the team and did not tell them he went off! Did he lie to the stewards as well?

  53. Graeme says:

    I don’t think Race Control have much to answer for on this particular occasion. The time from the incident happening to the end of the race could almost be measured in seconds. Had it happened much earlier, say under the first safety car period, then I’d agree.

    You’re in good company as Jackie Stewart expressed similar reservations about Race Control in an interview on Radio 4 this morning, but I still think that’s trying to muddy the waters.

  54. Martin P says:

    Ok ok, don’t shout! Jeez. It’s only a game you know.

  55. MartinWR says:

    I am not insinuating anything, I don’t have any inside knowledge of what arrangements, if any, they had between them. However I would have thought that starting from the fact they both lied to the stewards, and the fact that they are both grown men, it would not be unreasonable for them both to receive equal treatment. At the very least. Simple as that. They haven’t: one guy got the bullet, the other guy barely even apologised, and that only after he was forced to after being found out.
    However, as you’ve brought the subject up again (yawn) something rather shattering has just occurred to me that I hadn’t even thought of before. It’s just this: Dave Ryan had absolutely nothing whatsoever to gain personally from perpetuating the falsehood, but the other character did. The “world champion” had a great deal to gain, a seven point advantage, as it turned out, over a potential rival who is after all currently driving a faster car. Such an advantage could prove crucial to him later on this year, it might even be worth millions, but would be irrelevant to Ryan by comparison.
    You can make whatever you like out of that. Maybe you can even find a way of turning it around into yet another excuse for Hamilton to continue to go completely unpunished, as he has.

  56. Peter Freeman says:

    MartinWR not only ARE you insinuating that Hamilton invented it all on his own you are propounding a theory as to why!

    Your claim that you are not puts you in the same category as Hamilton and ‘innocent Dave’

    Unless I was dropped on my head as a baby that means YOU owe this forum an apology, so lets see if you are even half the man Hamilton is now!

  57. Mark says:

    Trulli certainly made mistakes. He went off, which was a big one that should have cost him P3. But Hamilton and team’s first mistake was to let Trulli past. A gift to Trulli, but certainly not something Trulli has to give back.

    But then to lie about the pass in order to get Trulli penalised, well that’s just extremely poor sportsmanship.

  58. Frenchie says:

    Whether Trulli went off or not is irrelevant at this stage Peter.

    The matter is down to why Trulli passed Hamilton under yellow flags AND the safety car. As this is a punishable offence it did cost him his third place initially.

    Trulli did not lie when he told the stewards he was forced to overtake because Hamilton nearly stopped on track. That is on this specific point that Hamilton/Ryan got wrong.

  59. Peter Freeman says:

    Yes but did he lies about going off????

    Did he tell the stewards he went off or did he tell them Hamilton simply overtook under yellow flags? He told his team this lie!!!

    If he did then the stewards would have been penalising Hamilton for overtaking under a yellow flag, which maybe why they were saying that Hamilton gave the position back all on his own!

    It is VITAL we hear exactly what was asked and said in the stewards meeting. It is highly convenient to the FIA that such a recording does not exist!

  60. John Kilmartin says:

    What telemetry data are you referring to? I am not aware of any that has been published which does what you claim. Nor have I seen reference to it.

    Though telemetry surely must exist I wonder at your claims.

  61. John Kilmartin says:

    Have you considered the hypothesis that a biased opinion is a worthless one.

  62. Luciano says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Hard to believe so many people here still want to blame the stewards for this mess. 100% McLaren’s fault.

  63. Phil says:

    Hamilton did know he could pass trulli, you can hear him going “but he went off, that means I can take the place back”. He is told by the team to hold off and let trulli back.

  64. Frenchie says:

    How about a 2 race ban?

    BAR lied about the weight/fuel of their cars in 2005 and were banned from the Spanish and Monaco GP.

    That way, if it happened during Martin Brundle’s usual break (it seems to be Hungary every year) we could have Hamilton commenting next to Jonathan Legard. Anyone else up for it?

  65. Frenchie says:

    Paul,

    Lewis was instructed to stay in front of Trulli by McLaren – he just panicked and let Trulli pass again before the instruction got to him.

    McLaren seem to be in a league of their own when it comes to decision making. They should have walked away with both titles in 2007 and somehow managed to fold it. :-)

  66. krad says:

    it always used to be 66%, and probably was last time we got 1/2 points. The last time I can remeber it happening was ’84

  67. Frenchie says:

    My mistake… McLaren instructed Lewis to let him pass!

  68. Frenchie says:

    Lewis might have been instructed to say ‘I have been misled by my… team manager’.

    It would make sense for McLaren’s senior management to do so in order to protect one of their most valuable assets.

  69. Mike Ellison says:

    Alonso has proven himself less than honest too!

  70. Frenchie says:

    I’ll second this Martin P.

  71. Chris says:

    dont blame him for shouting as people keep ignoring the facts the stewards are incompetant.

  72. Peter Freeman says:

    Words of truth Chris!

  73. Chris says:

    The FIA are largely at fault, they messed up the original decision and mclaren is now the scapegoat, lying is common in the sport by all the teams if you believe otherwise your delusional.

    The race director should have told mclaren what to do and didnt, the stewards after the race should have used radio logs and cameras to make the correct decision they ddint. Even after this yet more mistakes were made, the FIA apperently didnt log the steward hearing so we cannot see the transcript, and where is the trulli radio log?

    As for suggesting hamilton should go against his boss, I do wonder how much of working for a boss you have, I would sack an employee if they went again my order. So dave ryan been the senior member at the meeting has to take the brunt of responsibility, hamilton as a junior employee would be expected to follow dave no matter what dave said.

  74. Chris says:

    So if you went into a court of law and the judge needed 2 chances to get the decision right you wouldnt find the judge bad?

    the stewards crying ‘we were misled’.

    Its their job to avoid been misled, they basically admitting incompetance.

    and sorry mclaren tried to contact the stewards during the race but got no answer, this is a joke.

    I think the truth is you and others are still hurting from spy-gate and as such have a biased view.

  75. Peter Freeman says:

    ITS THEIR JOB to have the results of the race cleared up by the end of the race!!

    All they had to do was decide of Trulli went off or not. A simple yes or no was all that was required and they had LOADS of time!

    There was no need for a meeting. All they had to do was look at the recording and see, yes, or no. About 15 second of attention span was required!

    This was 100% the stewards fault!

  76. krad says:

    I remember a certain bloke called Murray who used to make mistakes all the time. He was awesome though. Time will tell with legard though

  77. bytor says:

    I hope James doesn’t come back to BBC coverage. not because he wouldn’t do a great job, but because I think it would mean we would lose the great independent-thinking and insightful blog that you are reading. If he was on the BBC team, he would probably have to tow the BBC line (at least to a certain degree). My 2cents, James could clarify!

  78. Joe says:

    I’m under the impression that the stewards have access to all the telemetry from all the cars. Perhaps not real-time but at least in recorded format, which means they didn’t need to ask the teams what was going on.

  79. Spike says:

    Oh gawd. I meant Peter Freeman of course. Your post is awesome. Martin not so much.
    Maybe I was dropped on my head :P

  80. Colster says:

    Let’s hope the FIA learn some lessons from this ‘mess’.

    1. Stewards hearings should be recorded
    2. Drivers and other team members should be ‘interviewed’ seperately
    3. Race results should not be altered once the drivers are out on the podium.

    I know it’s always been part of F1 but the politics are taking over from the spectacle of the race.

    Role on China! :0)

  81. MartinWR says:

    Absolutely the ONLY thing we can tell about this fiasco is that Hamilton and Ryan are guilty (of lying to the stewards). We can tell that because they themselves provided the incontrovertible evidence of it for all to see by contradicting themselves in public.
    However beyond that nobody has the slightest idea whatsoever what went on within the McLaren organisation for the simple fact that they have always lied through their teeth. They lied through their teeth in 2007, and were found out. They’ve lied through their teeth this time, and been found out.
    McLaren management even tell us that they tell their employees to lie! Can you believe that! But there’s the rub: is that a lie as well?
    I literally do not believe a single word of the latest management story from McLaren, and unless a mole pops up with a credible story, who can even guess at what goes on there?
    How on earth can the officials of the “sport” possibly countenance this rotten, deceitful crew? How can they possibly work with them, ever?
    However my feeling is that the two culprits should be punished, and punished equally, because, in this miasma of mendacity, about the only thing anyone knows for certain is that those two are as guilty as hell (of lying to the officials).
    Why should the many hundreds of decent people lower down in the McLaren organisation suffer the consequences of any substantive action against the company (if there is to be any) when they were not in any way complicit in this whole sick business?

  82. guy says:

    and all of the above will be made public – that’ll stop the cheating!!

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