The FIA have released full transcripts of the WMSC hearings on 26 July 2007 and 13 September 2007.
Dennis and Alonso
The transcripts highlight some of the internal troubles that McLaren have with Ron Dennis and Fernando Alonso as a result of the Hungarian Grand Prix with the Spanish driver believing he should get preferential treatment at McLaren over team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
“We are not on speaking terms, but that does not matter,â€ Dennis said. “We have not had any conversations since that point. First, the relationship between Fernando and myself is extremely cold that is an understatement. In Fernando s mind, there is the firm belief that our policy, whereby each driver receives equal treatment, does not properly reflect his status as World Champion.
“He bases this assertion on the fact that his experience and knowledge and what came to him from his former team is such that he should receive an advantage. In that discussion, he was extremely upset with what had taken place the previous day, but nowhere nearly as upset as I was,” added Dennis referring to the incident during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, where Alonso lost his pole position after a row with his teammate Hamilton.
“He said things that he subsequently and fully retracted. Within the passage of material, he made a specific reference to e-mails from a McLaren engineer. When he made this statement, I said, “Stop”. I went out, brought Mr Whitmarsh him in, and Fernando said everything again, in front of his manager.
“When he had finished, I turned to Martin Whitmarsh, asking what we should do with this particular part of the conversation. Martin said we should find Max. After Martin and Fernando left, that is exactly what he did. I recounted the entire conversation to Max. I was upset and angry, but mainly upset. Max calmed me down.
“He said that I should do nothing. I started to calm down. Then, prior to the race, Fernando’s manager came and said that he had lost his temper and completely retracted everything he said. When I phoned Max, Max was understanding and said things to me that are irrelevant here, though I would be more than comfortable sharing them.
“He was completely understanding and said that, on the basis of what I told him, if he felt there was any real validity in what Fernando had said, he would contact me prior to taking any action. I, however, on the basis that this was an engineering matter, I asked Martin whether he thought something was amiss in that area. He told me, ‘We have been too thorough in talking to the engineers; he cannot have been telling the truth.’ We subsequently had a reasonable Grand Prix.
“Fernando came to me. He had come in third. He apologised for the outburst and I put it down to the heat of the moment, in which he was angry. That is how I took it. Other than following up with Martin, the matter ended there, until 26 days later, when the drivers received a letter. What took place between those times, I do not know. I do not know what circumstances brought that into the public domain,”
Alonso s Absence
Dennis also revealed that Alonso had been asked to come to the Paris hearing but had declined to go. “Mr Alonso is not here because he does not want to be here,” Dennis explained. “He does not speak to anyone much. He is a remarkable recluse for a driver. He is not here by choice. Moreover, he said he had other things to do by previous arrangement. I cannot force him to come. We asked him to come.”
Plea for Hamilton
The FIA transcripts also show that McLaren s driver counsel made a plea not to throw rookie driver Lewis Hamilton out of the drivers world championship. As McLaren came to realise that they were going to be punished for their part in the espionage saga, Mark Phillips QC, counsel for Hamilton, issued a plea for the FIA not to wreck the fight for the drivers world championship.
“Lewis Hamilton has done nothing wrong,” Phillips began. “He has driven brilliantly and is leading the Drivers’ Championship by 3 points. If McLaren were banned from competing in the remaining races, Lewis Hamilton would not be able to compete in the final four races. He would lose the points that he has so brilliantly won over the last few months, to the sheer delight and excitement of millions of ordinary motor racing fans.
“The same would be true in 2008: if McLaren were excluded, Lewis Hamilton would not be able to compete in 2008 and McLaren would lose him as a driver. Perhaps he would drive elsewhere, assuming first that he could find a seat and assuming that that was a competitive seat. But I ask you to remember what he said in his statement: he has wanted to drive for McLaren for all of his racing life. He has been there since he was a young boy. He has been supported throughout his career for McLaren and wants to continue racing for McLaren.
“Of course, if you do eject McLaren from the 2007 and 2008 Championships, the consequence will be that Ferrari will certainly win this year’s championship and probably that of next year. It would leave the Formula One title to be decided by four races, in which one of the two top teams, if not the top team, would not be competing.
“It would be an absolute disaster for Formula One. The public would lose all confidence in the sport that we all love. It would also be a disaster for Ferrari. As a third party and avid motor sport fan, it begs disbelief that Ferrari could seriously want to see McLaren ejected. Their victories would be as hollow as the ones we saw in Indianapolis 2005. We respectfully suspect and suggest that racers like Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa would feel cheated if they were to win the World Championship after their two main rivals had been thrown out.”
“The following is critical. As a punishment for what has happened, and putting aside the timetable of how it came out, it would not be fair or proportionate, based on the core material alone, to eject McLaren. You may therefore decide that you should deduct points. Of course, that will give rise to the question: whose points should you consider deducting?
“Lewis Hamilton has done nothing wrong and has won his points by driving. One remembers his passing move on Kimi Raikkonen and respectfully suggest that it would be a travesty to penalise him. We do not ask that any different treatment be given teammate and chief competitor in this year’s Formula One Championship, Fernando Alonso.
“As for the teams’ points in the Manufacturers’ Championship, we would leave it to McLaren to justify why those should be retained. However, we would observe that stripping McLaren of the manufacturers’ points, leaving Ferrari to win that championship in the most hollow of victories.
“Gentlemen, when you come to consider what is fair proportionate and just, we invite you to have in mind that the world wants to see the world’s top drivers competing on-track for the World Championship. They do not want to see it decided by lawyers. We respectfully invite you to leave the World Championship alone. Where Lewis Hamilton is concerned, let him get back to the track, to become the first rookie world champion in Formula One history.”