McLaren in the docks again as furore over Hamilton’s disqualification reaches fever pitch in Sepang.
McLaren face being taken before the World Motorsport Council – where they could be hit with a range of sanctions – after the FIA deemed that they mislead stewards in the enquiry that followed the Australian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton was promoted to third place in Melbourne after the FIA demoted Jarno Trulli to twelfth place for overtaking the McLaren driver under safety car conditions.
But on Thursday Hamilton and his McLaren team were disqualified from the race in light of new evidence. Team radio communications revealed that Hamilton had been ordered by his team to slow down and let Trulli pass, something both he and McLaren denied in the post-race hearing.
Hamilton has since apologised for his actions, while McLaren’s sporting director Dave Ryan, who accompanied Hamilton, has been suspended by the team.
The FIA are continuing their investigation and have not ruled out referring the incident to the World Motorsport Council, where FIA President Max Mosley will be given a say on a range of possible sanctions – including throwing McLaren out of the championship, as he did in 2007 after the spy scandal.
“We recognise Lewis’ efforts to set the record straight. It would appear he was put in an impossible position,” an FIA spokesman said.
“We are now awaiting reports from the FIA observer and stewards before consideration can be given to further investigation of the team’s conduct. We cannot rule out the matter being referred to the World Motor Sport Council.”
It is not the first time that McLaren have been before the sport’s supreme governing body. In 2007 they were thrown out of the constructors championship and docked with a £50 million fine for their involvement in the spy scandal.
Fernando Alonso, who fell out with the team over the row, has fuelled the recent controversy further by claiming that it is not the first time the team have lied to the stewards.
“Of course it reminded me of 2007,” Alonso told the Spanish press, pointing to the Hungarian Grand Prix when he delayed Lewis Hamilton in the pitlane in qualifying.
“It’s not the first time they go to see the stewards. It’s not the first time they lie to the stewards and, sooner or later, they had to be punished. Of course there I lost the championship by a point and in Hungary they played a bad trick on me.”
“I read about it on Thursday in the hotel, because I was there all day. I turned the computer on and I read it. Every time there are decisions taken against other teams you don’t care too much and in this case it didn’t change the result for me, so it didn’t affect me too much.”