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McLaren Receive Suspended 3-Race Ban

April 29, 2009

McLaren have been issued a three-race ban by the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) today over the liar-gate controversy in the opening round of the 2009 world championship.

The sentence issued in Paris was suspended due to the ‘open and honest way’ in which McLaren team principle Martin Whitmarsh addressed the Council.

So long as the team do not break the International Sporting Code again, and bring the sport into more disrepute, the team should not have to take their ban. However, if more evidence comes to light over liar-gate, the team may then have the ban imposed upon them.

Team principle Martin Whitmarsh said after the meeting: “I would like to thank the FIA World Motor Sport Council members for affording me the opportunity to answer their questions this morning. We are aware that we made serious mistakes in Australia and Malaysia, and I was therefore very glad to be able to apologise for those mistakes once again.” He told the WMSC that there had been a ‘change of culture’ and the team had taken appropriate action to ensure the mistakes did not happen again.

The suspended sentence follows Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix where, along with the then McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan, had lied to stewards over an overtaking manoeuvre behind the safety car, in which Toyota’s Jarno Trulli had overtaken him after going off-track. Hamilton had said he had not deliberately let the Toyota past, however, radio transmissions between the driver and team showed otherwise, subsequently disqualifying the world champion from the race, and bringing the team before the WMSC.

As it was, he did not need to hand back the place to the Toyota, as Trulli was already off the track. Acting on the side of caution, McLaren had told Lewis to allow the Toyota through, and Hamilton was told by Dave Ryan after the race to lie to the stewards over what had happened, as the team were wary of receiving more penalties.

A statement issued by McLaren after the hearing said: “We now look forward with enthusiasm to continuing our efforts to develop a closer and more cooperative relationship between ourselves and the FIA.” They also said they are now looking forward to playing a more competitive part in the rest of the season, following their improvement in Bahrain.

After an eventful and rather colourful start to the 2009 season, McLaren can now put liar-gate behind them and continue their campaign in chasing down their rivals and defending the world championship, with the European part of the season starting next weekend in Spain.

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