- Apr 29, 2009
FIA imposes three-race ban on McLaren, then suspends it
2009 Australian Grand Prix - Click above for a high-res gallery
The FIA World Motor Sport Counsel has issued, and then retracted, a three-race on ban on McLaren after an investigation discovered the F1 team mislead race stewards at the Australian Grand Prix.
The episode that led to the probe involved McLaren accusing Toyota's Jarno Trulli of overtaking Lewis Hamilton while the safety car was out, resulting in a 25-second penalty for Trulli and catapulting Hamilton to a third-place finish. Later, it was discovered that Hamilton had been in radio contact with his team, telling him to let Trulli pass. Hamilton was subsequently disqualified for lying to officials and soon thereafter made a public apology amidst rumors that the young champion would quit the sport. That didn't happen, and with the three-race ban retracted – unless additional evidence surfaces or another breach of the sporting code takes place in the next twelve months – McLaren and Hamilton are ready to race on May 10 at the Spanish GP.
According to the FIA, the council felt McLaren's handling of the situation, including the team's principal, Martin Whitmarsh, was "open and honest." You can find that gem, along with the rest of the FIA's statement in the brief release below the fold.
At an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council held in Paris on 29 April 2009, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes admitted five charges of breaching article 151c of the International Sporting Code relating to events at the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix.
The following decision was taken:
"Having regard to the open and honest way in which McLaren Team Principal, Mr Martin Whitmarsh, addressed the WMSC and the change in culture which he made clear has taken place in his organisation, the WMSC decided to suspend the application of the penalty it deems appropriate.
"That penalty is a suspension of the team from three races of the FIA Formula One World Championship. This will only be applied if further facts emerge regarding the case or if, in the next 12 months, there is a further breach by the team of article 151c of the International Sporting Code."
The full reasons for this decision will be issued shortly.