McLaren dealt suspended race ban

d07esp150McLaren have been given a suspended three-race ban for misleading stewards after the Australian Grand Prix.

The team faced the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris today and accepted five charges of bringing the sport into disrepute.

The FIA were satisfied with the organisational changes McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh made to the team in the wake of the incident – which included sacking sporting director Dave Ryan – and dealt the team a suspended race ban.

The penalty will only be enforced if “facts emerge regarding the case or there is a further breach by the team of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code.”

The FIA had a range of tougher sanctions available to them, including disqualifying the team from the world championship.

The sports governing body said in a statement: “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.”

“The penalty is a suspension of the team from three races of the FIA Formula 1 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.”

McLaren accepted the decision and described it as a “very fair hearing.” Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “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.”

After a difficult star to the season the team are now turning their attention to closing the gap to the current championship leaders.

“We now look forward with enthusiasm to continuing our efforts to develop a closer and more co-operative relationship between ourselves and the FIA,” the team said in a statement.

“We will also continue to focus our efforts on closing the performance gap that exists between our car and the fastest cars.

“Following Lewis Hamilton’s encouraging fourth place in Bahrain last Sunday, we are now optimistic that we will be able to play an increasingly competitive part in what is fast developing into a very exciting season of Formula 1 motor racing.”