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McLaren to face the music – without Ryan
McLaren to face the music – without Ryan
Posted By:   |  07 Apr 2009   |  5:02 pm GMT  |  85 comments

The familiar ping of the incoming email alert on my Mac. The sender: FIA press, the subject: Extraordinary meeting of the FIA world council.

We’ve been expecting this since Friday, now the date is set – April 29th, the Wednesday after Bahrain and the rap sheet has been published.

“Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has been invited to appear before an extraordinary meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Wednesday, 29 April, 2009, to answer charges that, in breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, it

– on 29 March, 2009, told the stewards of the Australian Grand Prix that no instructions were given to Hamilton in Car No. 1 to allow Trulli in Car no. 9 to pass when both cars were behind the safety car, knowing this statement to be untrue;

– procured its driver Hamilton the current World Champion, to support and confirm this untrue statement to the stewards;

– although knowing that as a direct result of its untrue statement to the stewards, another driver and a rival team had been unfairly penalised, made no attempt to rectify the situation either by contacting the FIA or otherwise;

– on 2 April, 2009, at a second hearing before the stewards of the Australian Grand Prix, (meeting in Malaysia) made no attempt to correct the untrue statement of 29 March but, on the contrary, continued to maintain that the statement was true, despite being allowed to listen to a recording of the team instructing Hamilton to let Trulli past and despite being given more than one opportunity to correct its false statement;

– on 2 April, 2009, at the second stewards’ hearing, procured its driver Hamilton to continue to assert the truth of the false statement given to the stewards on 29 March, while knowing that what he was saying to the stewards was not true.”

The range of punishments goes from a fine, to a ban for a certain number of races, to disqualification. But the more likely route would be the loss of constructors’ championship points, as in 2007.

McLaren responded a few minutes later.

“We undertake to co-operate fully with all WMSC processes, and welcome the opportunity to work with the FIA in the best interests of Formula 1.

“This afternoon McLaren and its former sporting director, Dave Ryan, have formally parted company. As a result, he is no longer an employee of any of the constituent companies of the McLaren Group.”

McLaren are in an awkward position as they have already accepted that the above charges are valid. However, what the WMSC will seek to learn is whether Dave Ryan acted alone in telling Hamilton to ‘deliberately mislead’ the stewards, or whether anyone higher up in the organisation was involved.

Now Ryan is no longer an employee of McLaren, as long as he has no plans to work again in the sport (he is getting close to retirement age), he will be under no obligation to appear before the WMSC. This could turn out to be quite significant, as he could then be cast in the rogue employee role by McLaren and will not be there in Paris saying anything about who else was involved.

McLaren have ringfenced him in this way and it could be tricky for the WMSC to prove that anyone else in the team was involved.

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xenon, wot are u on about, the FIA’s single engine idea is based on an engine deal with Cosworth, no where has there ever been any statement or any hint at an inclination towards Ferrari engines. these conspiracy theories just crack me up. Secondly current manufacturers can make their own engines under the proposals aslong as they conform to the standardised design of the cosworth engine.


FIA (or Mosley) wants a single engine supplier for Formula1. Their inclination towards Ferrari engines is a not well hidden secret. Thus, they are going strongly at McLaren and Mercedes who are the strongest and richest team outside Ferrari.

Let’s look at the current situation: Another two years of hardball with McLaren, and Mercedes will have to leave F1 to protect its name. Toyota has already questioned its team’s performance and gave them a warning saying they are thinking of getting out if things don’t improve. Renault is also unsure about its commitment to F1, they might leave soon as well. It would be easy to oust BMW and make Ferrari the sole engine supplier.


ok it’s clear that mclaren lied. trulli went off the track and hamilton passed him, then whilst waiting for clarification from race control, aiui lewis was instructed to let him re-pass even tho he felt it to be the wrong thing to do.

lewis and mclaren should be punished for giving an incorrect account of what happened. but that’s only one side of the story – the FIA are far from blameless in all of this. it was their utter incompetence in Spa which made Mclaren ultra careful to do the right thing that it was even considered that trulli might need to re-pass lewis in the first place. were it anyone else like renault, BMW, or ferrari, they would have just said ok, trulli fell off the road, his mistake. no-one else would have even contemplated the possibility that they may need to let trulli back through. (also, in his account of things, trulli has consistently been economical with the truth – i’ve never heard himi say that he went off the road whereas this seems to be a generally accepted fact). also, the inexcusable delay from race control (something that *really* needs to be sorted out) added to the confusion, as mclaren who did the proper thing and sought guidance on what should be done in this situation were given no answers and so had to second guess the judgement of the stewards.

i think the penalty as applied is sufficient. afterall, toyota were allowed to start from teh back of the grid in australia, having appeared with an illegal rear wing. is this a consistent punishment?


Come on now fellows don’t hate the player, hate the game, go and get them Lewis.


It’s such a shame Dave Ryan is no longer in the sport – or with Mclaren anyway. If he reads this – I fully support him-…we all make mistakes, he has been thrust as the scapegoat. I know he is a role model for alot of young mechanics and engineers in the sport.


“……for one measly point”

At the end of the season, each “measly” point is worth something approaching one million US dollars when it comes to proportioning out the prize fund amongst the teams based on the points won in the season.

Ryan/Hamilton/whoever’s motive might have been to have an extra point in hand, as that is what has decided the last couple of years’ championships. But in doing so they “defrauded” Toyota out of six points, which would be worth in the region of $5 million in prize money at the end of the year. Even though it was probably an unintended or not-thought-through consequence of their lies, $5M deserves more than “a slap on the wrist”.


No sportsman worthy of the name would ever want to win anything by lying. Hamilton, on the other hand, was quite happy to do so twice for one measly point (the stewards’ inquiries 5 days’ apart). His ‘apology’ was nothing more than an attempt to cast the blame elsewhere. Having decided to totally shaft David Ryan by doing so rather than taking the blame jointly, he then has the effrontery to call him “a good guy”.

While the FIA was quite right to impose sanctions for this rank dishonesty on Hamilton’s part and Maclaren’s part, however, there is surely a limit on the extent to which the FIA should see itself as moral arbiter of the sport. Yes, the sporting regulations prohibit ‘bringing the sport into disrepute’ but does this really require a state trial as to where in the Maclaren organisation things stood at every stage of this affair? Punish the driver and punish the team, but is it really necessary to have the whole dirty laundry washed in public? This really does look like someone (i.e. Max) is again enjoying someone (i.e. Ron’s) else’s discomfort.


Hamilton should be punished. He was part of the deception, which has now seen Ryan sacked. If Hamilton gets away with only loosing his points from OZ, then this is not F1, it’s the Lewis Hamilton Show. He is the current world champion, and shouldn’t be allowed to act in this way. No driver is bigger than this sport.

During Spygate, Hamilton and Alonso managed to keep their points even thou McLaren were thrown out, something I didn’t agree with. This is turning into the same thing, just because it’s Lewis Hamilton. I for one am getting fed up with it.


A brilliantly perceptive article in the Times today sums this awful mess up far better than I could ever do:



“Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has been invited to appear before an extraordinary meeting…”

It’s only an invitation. That implies attendance isn’t mandatory! Maybe they’ll be busy that day…

“We undertake to co-operate fully with all WMSC processes, and welcome the opportunity to work with the FIA in the best interests of Formula 1.”

From the statement above it seems that the team view it as a McLaren/FIA love-in!

Maybe these opportunities to work with the governing body to make the sport better don’t arise unless you’ve been accused of cheating…

I wonder if Max is getting in some book-throwing practice.

Is the Indycar Series FIA sanctioned? We could see Vodafone McLaren/Dallara Honda going round-and-round racing next year.

Wonder if Lewis gets dizzy easily?


There is a story on Planet F1 which is a comment on a story in The Times. Here is the link: http://www.planet-f1.com/story/0,18954,3213_5160891,00.html

Perhaps I am making too much of a connection here but it is an accepted fact I think that The Times is Mr. Ecclestone’s favoured point of leaking. Most of Ed Gourmand’s (he frequently describes his meals) stories seem to be along the Bernie lines.

So is this a continuation of Max’s determination to ruin Ron Dennis and hound him from the sport completely? I would have thought that Ron stepping down as Team Principal was enough but it seems not. I agree with all the sentiments about McLaren telling lies and so on but to quote Sir Frank, this is now being pursued with extraordinary vigour by the FIA and the words witch and hunt are coming to mind. Renault possessing McLaren IP in 2007 anyone?


Looking at the current state of Formula One, a question comes to mind: Does any student of English know the derivation of the idiom:

“Gone to the dogs”.

Possibly related to Andy Capp and Greyhound racing?
Or throwing meat unfit for human consumption to the Hounds and Beagles?


I read elsewhere that Dave Ryan had been contacted by the FIA, will appear and has promised to cooperate fully with the FIA enquiry.


Isn’t it convienient that Mrs Whitmarsh decided to take Martin on a holiday just after the Melbourne GP….

Of course other people in Mclaren knew what Hammy and Ryan had said!


So McLaren and Hamilton lied on two separate occasions at two hearings?

pSynrg: yes many are still interested in this. In my view it’s more interesting than the racing at the moment.


This team beggars belief, nevermind disqualifying them or taking world champ points, just throw these ‘bad apples’ out of the circus, they just get worse by the day. And like you pointed out James, Ryan wont be there, so they can just scapegoat him and blame him for everything.

Reminds me of Doping in cycling, get rid of the bad apples for the sake of the sport, McLaren have NO scruples, and would walk over/and shaft anyone it seems to get what they want.


James, a great blog and twitter site.

A few comments on liegate:

1. Even though Ryan is no longer with McLaren, and therefore, can’t be compelled to come before the WMSC, McLaren may be asked if he was given any severance benefits. I assume that under UK law an employee who is terminated for cause is not entitled to much, if any, severance benefits. If he was given benefits beyond those normally afforded to employees terminated for cause, then it would appear that he was a scapegoat and that the lying ran deep in the McLaren organization.

2. Given the evidence, including Hamilton’s mea culpa, it seems that the only question is determining McLaren’s penalty.

3. If McLaren’s penalty is exclusion from the constructor’s championship, it will also be a de facto monetary penalty since the revenue split from FOM is determined by constructor’s points.


I see human cost. I hope that Ryan guy is okay – he gave his best adult years of his life to McLaren. He’d probably feel pretty low coming home and telling his family that the company he loved all his life, shafted him big time.

Will he take the golden egg or maybe he turn up in Paris and return the favour?

McLaren’s image is now a big PR problem. Would you pay megabucks during a financial crisis to associate your product with them.


It seems pretty obvious at this stage that Dave Ryan did not act alone. But aside from that, what exactly makes Hamilton squeaky clean in all this? He knew what he had said on TV, why did he not speak up and say “this lying idea is both wrong and won’t work because I already told the truth publicly”?

“Misled” by the team. What does that even mean? Is he so stupid that the team can tell him something is true and that then overrides the information he already had, firsthand, disproving it?


Basically there will be big cover-up. What’s new. The British are rising and falling at the same time.


“McLaren have ringfenced him in this way and it could be tricky for the WMSC to prove that anyone else in the team was involved.”

Until an aggrieved Mr. Ryan ignores any muting clause in his severance agreement and spills the lentils to the Press’ highest bidder.

I wonder if Mr. Mosley’s least favourite newspaper would be interested in the story?


It’d be in formula one’s best interests if they were punished with just a hefty fine. It should never have come to this, stemming all the way down from the brainless idiot who told Hamilton to move over for Trulli after his Toyota went and did a bit of gardening. To think these guys don’t know the simplest of rules is mind boggling.


He is a scapegoat. Witmarsh knew, Hamilton knew, David knew, perhaps even the boys with the air guns in the pit box knew what was going on. I don’t blame them. Lie and inherit 3rd place… why not give it a go? People seem to forget how ruthless the sport can be. Ayrton crashed into Alain at 185mph in Japan to win the Championship; not to mention the tactics employed by Michael over the years. I don’t particularly like McLaren, or the often obsequious Hamilton, but give them a break. The FIA has it out for them and it is so transparent. I am a Tifosi and I don’t think it is fair… Here comes another arbitrary $100 million fine!


Oh look, someone bought up Monaco 2006. Get a clue. Schumacher wasn’t stupid enough to tell the media one story and the stewards something else. The stewards didn’t believe him, it does not mean that he lied. Get over it.

Whitmarsh needs to be excluded from having anything to do with F1. I can’t believe that he still insisted there was no radio transmission. Either he was complicit and should be banned from the sport, or McLaren want us to believe that Ron Dennis appointed a team prinicpal who, in the face of such furious contraversy, did not sit down with Lewis and Dave Ryan, ask them what they told the stewards and then listen to the radio transmissions. I’m sorry, but I do not believe Whitmarsh is that stupid.


James, love your blog. Ok so they lied. Hamilton was excluded from the race and Ryan was suspended. Why not let it go there? I don’t follow why it’s becoming such a huge issue. Let’s just go racing!!!!!

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