Today was a day that could have seen the McLaren team receive any number of punishments as a result of their actions in Australia at the beginning of the season. The team was called to appear before the FIA WMSC in Paris to defend several charges laid against them that they have brought the sport into disrepute. However, in light of the team’s cooperation with the FIA and a change in culture at the team, a three race ban has been suspended.
This means that the disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix stands, and no further punishment will be handed out to the team or drivers providing no further evidence or misdemeanour comes to light. The suspension will last for twelve months, during which time McLaren really do not want to breach article 151c of the regulations (bringing the sport into disrepute). Had the WMSC decided not suspend the sentence, McLaren would have been banned from competing in the Spanish, Monaco and Turkish grands prix.
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. FIA Statement.
Martin Whitmarsh, who took over the team principal role from Ron Dennis prior to the start of the 2009 World Championship commencing, appeared in Paris alone and the meeting with the WMSC only lasted for about an hour. Last week Whitmarsh also sent a letter of apology to the FIA for the conduct of his team during the stewards meetings and following investigations, and the FIA clearly took this into consideration when finalising their verdict.
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.
I was also pleased to be able to assure the FIA World Motor Sport Council members that we had taken appropriate action with a view to ensuring that such mistakes do not occur again. Martin Whitmarsh.
Whitmarsh went on to say that he hopes this will be the end of the matter. Although once again, McLaren have been involved in an incident that has garnered media attention the world over and painted a poor impression of Formula One as a whole. With great racing on the track though and a championship that looks set to be a supreme and honest fight all season, hopefully the behaviour of David Ryan and Lewis Hamilton in Australia can be put to the back of minds while the twenty participating drivers duke out on the tarmac.