Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The charges against McLaren explained

All the facts about McLaren's FIA hearing in Paris on Wednesday.

McLaren, the team of world champion Lewis Hamilton, will appear before Formula One's governing body in Paris on Wednesday for lying to stewards at last month's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
The possible sanctions range from a reprimand to being thrown out of the championship.

McLaren protested to stewards in Melbourne that Toyota's Jarno Trulli had passed Hamilton illegally for third place while both were behind the safety car.
Trulli had earlier been ahead but run wide off the track while the safety car was deployed. Hamilton went past, as the rules allow, but then seemed to slow and Trulli regained the position.
Trulli said he went past because he thought Hamilton had a problem and was letting him go. Hamilton and the team denied that and were awarded Trulli's third place, with the Italian demoted to 12th.
A few days later, when radio evidence clearly showed Hamilton had been instructed to let Trulli through, the Toyota driver was reinstated and McLaren excluded from the results.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has charged McLaren with five counts of breaching article 151c of the international sporting code.

1. McLaren told stewards in Melbourne on March 29 that they had not instructed Hamilton to allow Trulli to pass him when both were behind the safety car, and that they knew this assertion to be untrue.

2. That McLaren 'procured' Hamilton to support and confirm the untrue statement to stewards.

3. McLaren made no attempt to rectify the situation, by contacting the FIA or otherwise, despite knowing another driver and team (Trulli and Toyota) had been unfairly penalised as a direct result of the untrue statement.

4. On April 2, at a second meeting with stewards at the Malaysian Grand Prix, McLaren continued to maintain that their statement was true despite hearing a recording of the team instructing Hamilton to let Trulli past.

5. McLaren again procured Hamilton in Malaysia "to continue to assert the truth of the false statement ... while knowing that what he was saying to the stewards was not true."

This article covers "any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally".

Potential penalties range from a simple reprimand, through fines, exclusion, suspension and disqualification. There can also be the loss or deduction of points.
Hamilton could be punished but the FIA has made clear this is unlikely. "It would appear that he has been put in an impossible position," a spokesman said this month.

McLaren were fined a record $100 million and stripped of all their constructors' points in 2007 for breaching article 151c in a spying controversy involving secret Ferrari information in their possession.
In 2005, BAR were disqualified from the San Marino Grand Prix and suspended for the next two races after their car was found to have a special compartment within the fuel tank to enable it to reach minimum weight requirements.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who has already written to Mosley to apologise and accept that the team are in breach of the regulations, will attend alone.

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