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Whitmarsh admits team told Lewis to lie
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Whitmarsh admits team told Lewis to lie
Posted By:   |  03 Apr 2009   |  9:21 am GMT  |  0 comments

A sensational press conference has just concluded here in Sepang, where new McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitted that his sporting director Davey Ryan deliberately set out to lie to the stewards in Melbourne and that he told Lewis to follow his lead.
Martin Whitmarsh admits Hamilton was told to lie

Whitmarsh suspended Ryan this morning and the New Zealander is on his way back to England as we speak.

Speaking to a packed media centre, Whitmarsh said that this matter did not go any higher in the McLaren organisation and that he was not consulted before Ryan and Hamilton went to the stewards,
“We knew what had happened and there was a belief that a true and honest account of that would be given.

“Lewis got out of the car and gave a truthful account of what happened (to reporters). When they got to the stewards, Davey, who had been part of what happened at Spa (Hamilton’s penalty for passing Raikkonen) was highly sensitive and I think that in the heat of the moment his judgement was not to give a truthful account and I think Lewis was then led by that.”

When asked whether he would reconsider his own position, Whitmarsh said he could not rule anything out or in.

He said that, “We have lost a significant anchor to this team,” implying that Ryan’s suspension will become permanent.

One of the the things everyone wants to know is what was said in the original stewards’ meeting, as we have only the FIA stewards’ version of events as published yesterday. Whitmarsh said that he has not seen the transcript because one does not exist, “these things are not normally minuted and one of the stewards did not bring his notebook with him,” he said. “We have no access to that, all we can do is ask the driver and team manager what happened at the meeting.”

Hamilton himself will speak soon, at 5-45pm here in Sepang. He has lied, that much is obvious and as reigning world champion it puts a huge stain on his sporting integrity. He should have spoken to the media yesterday having first sorted out the details with Ryan and Whitmarsh, but instead, the whole thing has been allowed to be covered in the media with Hamilton’s reputation taking a hammering. He now has to say, “I lied, I was told to and I’m sorry,” after the event.

It will not improve things much for him, but it will help if he expresses regret. However the problem he will have going forward is that he is perceived by his critics as a manufactured product and the fact that he lied under orders will only emphasise that point.

I hate to keep comparing this to moments in Michael Schumacher’s career, but in 1994/95 he felt that he had to move away from Benetton because of all the allegations of cheating, from the FIA, which were piling up against the team and reflecting badly on him, he moved to Ferrari in 1996.

Steadying the ship generally will be Whitmarsh’s first priority, but after that he will have to work hard to persuade Hamilton that staying with the team is his best long term option.

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  1. rpaco says:

    [Quote]I hate to keep comparing this to moments in Michael Schumacher’s career,[/Quote]

    But if you continue the parallel, then Lewis moves closer to Kimi’s seat. :-)

  2. MartinWR says:

    From where I stand LH’s position frankly looks untenable. I would be ashamed to show my face in public in a similar situation, let alone in the full glare of publicity from the world’s media.

  3. Peter Freeman says:

    James the FIA lie as a way of life! Really this is bad on Hamilton and McLaren’s part, but the were talking to the FIA for crying in a bucket!

    What chance did they have of getting a fair hearing? They would have been penalised not matter what they said, lets be honest and people hate Hamilton because he is good and he speaks his mind.

    This is just a chance for everyone to jump on because they like doing that anyway. Ferrari still have a steward in the box, a business associate of theirs, how dishonest is that? Ask them ‘is this is true’ and they and the FIA will say NO. So who are the greater lairs and cheats here? Every race that every other team attend is a slap in their face from Ferrari and the FIA.

  4. Finn says:

    So either Hamilton and Ryan equally connived to mislead the stewards, or Hamilton just followed the instructions he was given without thinking or questioning them … knowing full well he had already spoken to the media about the issue and knowing he was shafting Trulli and Toyota.

    Well, either way he looks to have been appallingly in the wrong and to have behaved with a total lack of sportsmanship and common human decency.

    I think Ryan should have been suspended … and, by the same token, Lewis should have been suspended as well.

    Lewis clearly knew they were not telling the truth and if he had any concerns about what he was being asked to do, he should have had the guts to stand up as an honest man and he should have gone straight to Martin Whitmarsh.

    Hamilton’s judgement just looks so poor and deceitful. I wish Macca would withdraw him from Malaysia and put DLR in instead.

  5. Peter says:

    So, it is to save Hamilton and the team and put all of the responsibility onto one team member. “We are winning and losing together as a team”

  6. Peter says:

    McLaren PR: “No,no,no,no we did not…What? You already know…ok, than, yes, yes and sorrry, sorry, sorry.

  7. Martin P says:

    James, what options do you think Mercedes have now?

    They’re the engine supplier for the fastest car on the grid (Brawn) yet their name is attached to a team who’s public esteem is at an unprecedented low.

    I know they own a huge shareholding in McClaren so they’re clearly tied in commercially – but could we see a re-branding to simply McLaren with Brawn becoming Brawn-Mercedes?

    If I was McLaren I’d be more worried about the Mercedes punishment than the FIA now.

  8. Sesh says:

    So all he has to do is to say “I lied, I was told to and I’m sorry,” to regain some of his integrity – think not James.

    He will be forever more asociated as a cheat and a liar – being told to do it and actually carrying out the act smacks of the defence of ‘I was only following orders’.

    About time the sport throws the book at Lewis and tells him that motor racing is far bigger than he.

  9. James Lindfield says:

    POOR SHOW!!!!!

    Give them a constructors ban and leave the drivers out of it!

    Enough said…

  10. Moog says:

    2 words “scape goat”.

  11. Great post James, this really is going to do Lewis’ reputation massive damage but I don’t think he is to blame. McLaren really need to get their management sorted out, they don’t seem to be talking to each other.

  12. Adam says:

    Blimey. Shame really, I’ve always been a McClaren fan, but maybe I should be following a team more deserving

  13. stephen richardson says:

    Hi James,

    REcall that mclaren are restricted from developing x y and z under the terms of the FIA settlement for the spying scandal.

    Do you think that is hurting them at the moment ?

    Also, The statement from whitmarsh looks like it was to overt further FIA action. Do you get that feeling ?

    Stephen

  14. Paul says:

    Some quick back tracking by Martin there. After Spygate you’d have thought McLaren would be trying their upmost to keep things clean? I’m afraid their reputation has gone from 100% clean and sporting a few years ago to something sub Ferrari level.

    Additionally Hamilton’s reputation is damaged, he may have got the nod to go along with what Davey said, but he will have known that is wasn’t the truth. He’s committed a form of perjury really.

    I’m staggered that Lewis and Davey (with all his experience) were willing to risk the fallout of all this for one point more than they had at the end of the race. I struggle to believe that a more mature driver would have gone along with what was suggested.

  15. Colin says:

    Oh how tragic for Mr. Ryan: Could have been any of us watching the scapegoat sent out into the desert.

    Eat well before your dinner Sir, because there won’t be anytime for munching this evening.

    If you get the opportunity, ask them to go easy on the culprit. It’s not as if he did a Coghlan.

  16. Ahsan says:

    They missing RON, he wouldn’t have allowed something like this to happen…rather he would have come clean sooner than all this.. Ferrari would be relishing at the prospect of speaking with Lewis.. to prize him away… hope this ends here.

  17. plan-bstudio says:

    What a crazy, rediculous turn of events. I am confused massively. I saw the news report and Trulli went off the track, Hamilton passed him; surely regardless of the safety car, this was not a passing maneuver, it was a separate incident for Trulli and Hamilton went past legitimately? What was Hamliton supposed to do, wait for Trulli to come off the grass? So ridiculous.

    After that I am not sure what is going on with whom said what, but what exactly did Hamilton lie about?

    Just what F1 needs, another pathetic incident[al] episode to belittle the skill and achievements of the drivers. The rule book si too big, and the restrictions and expectation sof the drivers is too immense. J

    Just let them drive the bloody cars, no?

  18. Phil says:

    Slightly confused. Lying to the stewards is bad. A deliberate attempt to cheat. Fine. Punish the liars by disqualification. However, is lying to stewards so much worse than attempting to run with illegally flexible wings? That’s also a deliberate attempt to cheat yet the team were merely excluded from qualifying – and ended up doing rather well.

    One might almost say that Toyota did a worse thing because the flexi-wings must have been the product of considerable forethought whereas McLaren’s ridiculous attempt to gain an extra place looks like sheer hot-headedness.

    I’m not trying to exhonorate or explain anything away. I’m not even particularly a McLaren fan (been following Williams since the Mansell/Piquet days, actually). I just don’t see fair and equal punishments being given out here.

  19. Charlie W says:

    Naughty boys. I can’t help thinking that this would not have happened if Davey felt that he could trust the FIA stewards to make a fair judgment.

  20. Colin says:

    Mr. Whitmarsh should offer his resignation, as a matter of honour, and Mr. Dennis should of course refuse to accept it.

  21. SiY says:

    I think Schumacher’s move away from Benetton had a lot more to do with:
    - the chance to be part of the most evocative team in F1 headed by a new injection of very highly-rated F1 personnel (Byrne, Brawn, etc)
    - the huge suitcases of cash Ferrari were willing to pay him
    - the fact that the Benetton was not the best car in the field in either 1994 or 1995

    It’s generally believed (even accepted?) that Benetton were illegally running some form of traction control in Schumacher’s time there; coincidentally I think it was widely suspected that Schumacher’s Ferrari was among a few teams running some form of traction control by 2000, which is ultimately what lead to the technology being legalised for the 2001 season. And given his behaviour in Macau 1990 as well as Adelaide 1994, Jerez 1997 and Monaco 2006, among other occasions, I’m not sure anybody would truly believe Michael was forced to move teams by the possibility of being thought a cheat.

  22. Tim says:

    I always chuckle when someone professes to be a lifelong “McClaren” fan yet can’t spell the team’s name :D

    There’s only one C in McLaren. Which sounds rather rude now I’ve said it.

  23. Silas Denyer says:

    I do wonder if Ryan’s hands are all over a number of other incidents down the years. Do you think Ron trusted him too much?

    Perhaps Whitmarsh can use this as justification for having a good old shake-up of the team, which would probably help all concerned to move on.

  24. The Pitstop says:

    I think Ron should take over again, I think this would have been dealt with a lot better than this. Martin Whitmarsh is not the right man for the job in my opinion.

  25. Rich says:

    In my opinion, the actions on the track are those that should be judged and that is it. This is a racing sport – not a court of law. Drivers straight out of a 200 mph pressure cooker should not have to immediately play Perry Mason. The world of F1 has been discribed as the “Piranna Club”. As they rip things apart, are Piranna noted for their exemplary ethical conduct?

    Many years ago while sport scuba diving near a military base in the Arabian Gulf our party was hauled out of the water by soldiers with machine guns. They realised we were up to no harm, but we were arrested and told we had to face an interrogator. Seeing that I had an underwater camera, the soldiers told me to say thart I had no camera, because if the interrogator heard this I would be in big big trouble. What do you do in this situation – where clearly the camera was a fact? Fortunately for me I was not interrogated but I have often wondered what I would have said.

    Hamilton – keep your head up. You drove a great race and deserved your third place – as you did your ‘win’ at Spa last year. I am sick of the FIA.

    … Oh and surely James, Schumacher went to Ferrari for the money. A lot of it as I recall.

  26. Mike says:

    I think this is very bad form for McLaren. It means that anyone in the team can expect to be hung out to dry whenever McLaren get themselves into a sticky situation. If it’s done once, it can be done again.

    It would have been far better to take the rap as a team and then handle any disciplinary measures behind closed doors.

    Hamilton would still have had to apologize publicly though.

  27. Spike says:

    I for one am not buying Whitmarsh’s lame ass explanation.

    2 strikes McLaren. 2 strikes.

  28. Treaded Lurgy says:

    Anyone else get the feeling that Bruce McLaren is turning, nay, twisting somersaults in his grave?

  29. Robin Capper says:

    Did Whitmarsh lie about “not lying”?

    “There is not implication that Lewis lied to the stewards. I don’t know what they meant by (deliberately misleading), you’d have to ask them”

    Now…

    “…in the heat of the moment his [Davey Ryan] judgement was not to give a truthful account and I think Lewis was then led by that.”

    Led, one presumes to lie.

    Was Whitmarsh lying before, is he lying now, or perhaps just being deliberately misleading?

  30. RobertH says:

    Ok ok so Hamilton and McLaren told a lie, thats not great but jees come on – look at some of the ‘greats’ and what they did (and yes, I still consider them great)

    Senna – Suzuka 90 – said it was an accident then admits it a year later…that was a full on, championship deciding crash!

    Shumi – Adelaide 94 – please…

    Honda – end of 87 with Mansell and end of 89 with Prost, both drivers claimed their engine performance dropped compared to their teammates

    Shumi – Jerez 97…

    In each case someone/some company was manipulating F1 and lying about it…and in each case a championship was at stake…much more so than Hamilton in round 1

  31. Paul says:

    I’m not sure you can do that really, given that Kovalinen wasn’t involved at all. Lewis was complicit, so I fail to see why he should get left out of it. I feel rather sorry for Heikki right now.

  32. MartinWR says:

    Too young at 24 to know whether to lie or not? A “world champion” incapable of doing more than act like a parrot or a ventriloquist’s dummy? Come on!
    By failing to treat Hamilton equally with Dave Ryan, McLaren are still on a misguided damage limitation course which conceivably could result in the whole outfit being thrown out of the championship (yet again), rather than just the immediate culprits. Would Mercedes stand for that a second time running? Maybe this will all end with Whitmarsh falling on his sword, anything rather than Hamilton having to take any responsibility for his actions as a grown-up. Nothing would surprise me more.
    I wouldn’t even be surprised to see RD hang up his carpet slippers and rejoin the fray.

  33. Mangoman says:

    One word: “scapegoat” :-)

  34. George says:

    I would love to see De la Rosa in a race seat again! It would certainly make things more interesting if he got a couple races in while Hamilton was under suspension, he’s been looking a bit forlorn recently with all the testing limitations.

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