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McLaren admits guilt to FIA UPDATE (GMM)  The 'lie-gate' saga has continued to be a topic in the Bahrain paddock, as McLaren's World Motor Sport Council grilling looms for next Wednesday.

The latest twist in the scandal is the leaking to the press of a letter from Martin Whitmarsh to Max Mosley, in which the McLaren chief acknowledges that McLaren broke the rules and groveling apologizes.

"Certainly, there's been no leak about it from us and I can't comment on it," Whitmarsh, asked about the Times newspaper leak, said in Bahrain.

The Guardian said the contrite letter is a break from McLaren's "previously oppositional stance towards motor sport's governing body".

Some have therefore interpreted the letter, and the leak, as a maneuver to reduce the prospect of a harsh penalty next week.  According to rumors, the most likely punishments are either a 30 point reduction or race bans.

"It's very difficult to predict what the court will do," Red Bull's Christian Horner commented.  "It would be a shame to lose a team for a couple of races but then again there has to be a penalty for lying to the stewards."

Martin Whitmarsh
McLaren are reported to have admitted to the FIA that they are in breach of Article 151c of the Formula One sporting regulations. According to British newspaper The Times, the new McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has written to Max Mosley, president of the FIA saying that his team are in breach of the regulations and apologizing for the incident.

Article 151c of the Formula One sporting regulations covers bringing the sport into disrepute. McLaren are currently facing the possibility from being excluded from Formula 1 for lying to the stewards at the first race of the season in Australia.

The letter from Whitmarsh is said to also include mitigating arguments and appears to be an attempt by the Woking based team to co-operate with the FIA and limit the scale of the punishment that they will receive.

The World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) has several options open to them including giving McLaren a fine, suspending the team from a number of races, or throwing them out of this season’s championship.

Some believe that the team will be handed a constructor’s points penalty. This is, in effect, a sort of fine as it will affect the amount of money McLaren receive from the sale of F1 TV rights next season. Others believe that the team may be excluded from two or three races – and should this happen, it is possible that some of McLaren’s key sponsors may choose to walk away as it would be a breach of contract. This path would also make it very difficult for reigning champion Lewis Hamilton to defend his Formula One title.

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