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Might a possible McLaren ban include Silverstone?
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Might a possible McLaren ban include Silverstone?
Posted By:   |  09 Apr 2009   |  5:09 pm GMT  |  50 comments

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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1

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.

2

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*

3

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.

4

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…..

5

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*

6

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!

7

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).

8

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.

9

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!

10

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

11

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?

12

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

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

13

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…

14

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! 🙂

15

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

16

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.

17

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.

18

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.

19

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

20

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.

21

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

22

– 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.

23

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.

24

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.

25

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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