Large penalty could force McLaren out of F1 UPDATE #2 The scare tactics worked. McLaren have escaped punishment from the FIA's World Motor Sport Council for the lie-gate fiasco, with the governing body announcing this afternoon that they have issued the Woking-based team with a suspended three-race ban. The FIA said that its decision to suspend the penalty was as a result of McLaren's “change in culture which [was] made clear has taken place in [the] organization”.
“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 organization, the WMSC decided to suspend the application of the penalty it deems appropriate,” said a statement from the FIA on Wednesday afternoon. “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.”
04/26/09 Surprise, surprise. The scare tactics appeared to have worked. British Sunday newspapers, apparently fed by unnamed high-level sources, are reporting that McLaren is likely to escape major punishment in next Wednesday's World Motor Sport Council hearing.
It has been rumored that race bans are possible for the British team over 'lie-gate', but the Telegraph said a points deduction is actually the most likely outcome.
McLaren, with eight points on the board so far, is therefore likely to go into negative points figures.
The Independent newspaper agreed with the speculation about the likely penalty's leniency, and other press sources indicate that the news about the hearing follows Martin Whitmarsh's letter to Max Mosley this week.
It is believed that it is because Whitmarsh outlined the apologetic and open manner in which McLaren will handle the hearing that information about the outcome is now emerging.
A source told the News of the World: "It is all up to McLaren now. If they go into the meeting contrite and hold their hands up then they could get off.
"But if they go to Paris trying to defend themselves like they did over Ferrari-gate it will not be good for them."04/23/09 [Editor's Note: Clearly McLaren is using scare tactics to put pressure on the FIA to not penalize the team too much for lying through their teeth. Will the FIA fall for such nonsense? McLaren leaving F1? No way - it is the core of their entire business. They will find a way to remain in F1, even if it means sucking wind behind the Force India cars. Ron Dennis knows Max Mosley has it in for him, this is why he stepped out of F1 in hopes that Max would not lower the boom on McLaren.]
Agents for McLaren's sponsors have reportedly approached the FIA pleading for leniency at next week's WMSC hearing, fearing a "disproportionately large" punishment could see the Woking team forced out of F1.
McLaren will face the World Motor Sport Council for the second time in just 19 months on April 29th to answer five charges relating to the 'Liargate' scandal, one of which is bringing the sport into disrupt. It's the second time in recent years that the team has faced such charge, with the FIA imposing a $100 million fine and throwing McLaren out of the Constructors' Championship two years ago for their part in the 'Stepneygate' spy scandal.
McLaren, though, have already taken steps in the hope of lessening their potential punishment this year, sacking sporting director Dave Ryan, the man they hold responsible for misleading the Australian race stewards, and bidding farewell to CEO Ron Dennis, who has long been at loggerheads with the FIA.
But such is the seriousness of the team's position that, according to The Daily Telegraph, representatives of some of their sponsors have also 'approached the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management company to impress upon them the gravity of the situation if McLaren are suspended by the FIA's world council at a hearing in Paris next Wednesday.'
A source described as 'close to one of McLaren's sponsors' is quoted as saying: "I can say that if a disproportionately large penalty were given to McLaren on April 29 then the sponsor that I am associated with might leave. But the punishment must fit the crime. If there is an irrefutable case of corporate deception then fair enough.
"I think we all know the subtext here; the FIA wanted to oust Ron Dennis. I believe the governing body have allowed this situation to escalate and it is doing no one any good - not McLaren, not the FIA and certainly not the sport. Apart from anything else, it is dissuading other potential sponsors from entering Formula One."