McLaren Still Racing With Illegal Cars

McLaren Still Racing With Illegal Cars

McLaren - Testing in 2007The verdict form the FIA now means that essentially, the McLaren Mercedes MP4-22 is illegal. The FIA have decided that the British team have incorporated information from Italian team Ferrari into their car, be it with aerodynamic parts or the way the rival team uses its tyres. What was incorporated is really neither here nor there at the moment. But what is correct, as far as I see it, the FIA now consider the McLaren car illegal. Hence why the team are excluded from the constructors championship. So why are Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso able to continue competing with the other teams for driver championship points?

Surely, McLaren should have been completely disqualified in both championships, or they should have been allowed to continue with no punishment. Lewis and Fernando will race at this weekends Belgian Grand Prix in a car that according to the governing body, has an unfair advantage over Ferrari and their drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been found guilty in the first place.

Am I seeing that wrong? Am I reading the statements incorrectly?

Formula One, F1, McLaren


  • Well, the FIA statement doesn’t really say anything about this year’s car being illegal does it? Only that next year’s car will have to pass scrutiny.

    So basically they’re punishing McLaren for bringing F1 into disrepute by being careless enough to get caught cheating.

  • Hi Magnus, welcome to BlogF1.

    Granted, the FIA haven’t actually said that the cars are illegal. But disqualifying the team kinda implies that the car is illegal. It means that the team have somehow used the information from Ferrari, and that means they have had, and arguably continue to have, an unfair advantage.

    That’s the bit I just don’t get.

  • Hey Mary-Ann,

    Yeah, Alonso was let off because he cooperated, presumably the others did as well, but of course it was Alonso who dominated the headlines on that story. But it still means, in my humble little mind of course, that those two MP4-22s are illegal. Especially when you consider the sentence from the FIA regarding 2008. They have said they will thoroughly check every detail of next years car before allowing them to enter next season. It is highly unlikely that anything will come of that, but it does imply that the FIA don’t like the car. Yet it still races.

    It is unfair to punish the drivers (presuming they played little to no part in the scandal), but they aren’t self-employed. They work for McLaren. And according to the FIA, McLaren have been naughty.

  • I read that the drivers had been offered immunity by the FIA for testifying against the McLaren, they were discussing the Ferrari info in emails among themselves and Mike Coughlan, but they testified that they told no one else.

  • Personally I agree with you and if I was either Ferrari driver then I would feel really aggrieved that Alonso and Hamilton are still on the track and are the two drivers with a very real chance of taking the title.

    The FIA have been very clever – they didn’t try to gain information from the drivers, and then later offer immunity when none was forthcoming. Instead they said right from the outset that if the drivers provided information against the team then they wouldn’t be punished themselves which was very sneaky.

    That meant that the full punishment was only ever going to be against McLaren as a constructor, with no effect on the drivers’ points. This allowed the FIA to hand out a severe punishment without causing huge public and media outrage by disqualifying the drivers as well.

    Imagine the British tabloids reaction if Hamilton was denied a crack at the title! Now though, if he doesn’t win it then the FIA will no doubt be blamed for causing all this upheaval within his team anyway!

  • There already is major outrage in the press. The press may normally have trouble remembering what happened a week last Wednesday, but come the last race of the season, they’ll remember this all right. Especially if anyone other than Hamilton wins the world championship. Even an Alonso win will be put down to the events of yesterday by the less-informed press.

    As for the McLaren MP4-22, the timeline suggests that the car was fully designed and racing by the time the documents arrived in Mike Coughlan’s hands (late March or April, depending on who you believe). Therefore the MP4-22 in its basic configuration would be legal, though depending on what happened to the information after Mike Coughlan got it, it is possible that development work on the car is illegal. However, the FIA probably wanted to avoid arguments as to which bits pre-dated the date of receipt and which did not, as the championship is tainted enough as it is.

    On the all-or-nothing punishment theory, I quite agree. As it stands, the punishment is very inconsistent, with McLaren getting most of the spoils of championship points without actually getting the points. That’s like saying they’re innocent and guilty of the same crime, and is logically incoherent.

  • In all honesty Mary-Ann, PDLR has lost a fair amount of respect from me. I have always had a reasonable level of respect for that man. He seems so genuine, happy, supportive, intelligent… The kind of guy you would have a beer with one evening, but do business and work with the next morning. And it turns out he was indirectly involved from March ’07 onwards, at minimum. He watched as his employer of many years got rogered up the arse. He could have immediately informed other people within the company (I honestly believe he did, and Dennis has gone down in my esteem as well), but from the facts presented to the world, PDLR did more damage than Alonso if the excerpts of emails are truthful and in context.

    If what has been presented is accurate, entire and truthful, McLaren should be ashamed. Ferrari are not 100% innocent, not be any means (after all, it was arguably Stepney who started all this), but McLaren should have simply said, “No ta, we’ll thrash them anyway.” Because they would probably be in a similar position to what they were previous to their exclusion: Leading, or at worse not too far behind in the title races.

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