Decision day for FIA over McLaren “lie-gate”

fia-1.gifMcLaren-Mercedes today face the World Motor Sport Council of the FIA to answer charges of lying to race stewards over an incident at the first grand prix of the season in Australia.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh will face the Council alone and without legal representation, understands. He will read a statement and then answer questions from the panel about the controversial incident.

McLaren are in the dock because they were found to have lied about whether Lewis Hamilton was instructed by the team to let Jarno Trulli’s Toyota back through after Hamilton had legitimately passed him. Initially the team told stewards no instruction had been given, which was later proved to be false by recorded radio transmissions.

McLaren will face charges of instructing its employee to back up, and then repeat, its false statement. The team will then be charged with not seeking to correct the error, despite Toyota and Trulli having been punished wrongly.

Although team manager Dave Ryan lost his job over the issue, there are suspicions that the falsehood was sanctioned by higher levels in the organisation. Today’s hearing will also seek to establish whether that did indeed take place.

McLaren is expected to receive a punishment, most likely a fine, although some form of sporting sanction could also come to pass. There are suspicions, however, that both parties are seeking to draw a line under the issue, which does not show the sport in a particularly good light.