Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
The next stage in McLaren-gate
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.

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

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.


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’!!


Sorry James….


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.


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.


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.


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 😛

Lying has its consequences…….

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


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


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.



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.


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?


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.


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!!!


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


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.


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 🙂


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!


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!


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.


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…


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Top Tags