Formula One giants McLaren face the threat of major sanctions after being summoned to face an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on April 29.
McLaren are deemed to be in breach of the FIA’s International Sporting Code after deliberately misleading stewards at the Australian Grand Prix regarding an incident involving world champion Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton and McLaren — he had been promoted to third above Jarno Trulli — were subsequently thrown out of the race and now the Woking-based F1 team will be put in the dock. It is the third time McLaren have been hauled before the WMSC in less than two years, with the last hearing resulting in the team being handed a sporting record £49.2million fine following the ‘spy-gate’ furore. This time McLaren are accused of being in specific breach of Article 151c of the sporting code, relating to ‘any fraudulent conduct, or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally.’ McLaren, no doubt in a further attempt to try to appease the WMSC, confirmed they have now sacked Dave Ryan, their former sporting director who gave false information and urged Hamilton to go along with it. Ryan was suspended on Friday and sent home after the storm surrounding the case blew up ahead of last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix where Hamilton apologised for his naivety. The McLaren statement read: “McLaren acknowledge receipt of an invitation to appear at an FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris on April 29, received this afternoon. “We undertake to co-operate fully with all WMSC processes, and welcome the opportunity to work with the FIA in the best interests of Formula One. “This afternoon McLaren and former sporting director, Dave Ryan, have formally parted company. “As a result, he is no longer an employee of any of the constituent companies of the McLaren Group.” In a statement released to the Press Association, the FIA said that McLaren are to answer charges that: — On 29 March, 2009, told the stewards of the Australian Grand Prix that no instructions were given to Hamilton in car No. 1 to allow (Jarno) Trulli in car no. 9 to pass when both cars were behind the safety car, knowing this statement to be untrue. — Procured its driver, Hamilton, the current world champion, to support and confirm this untrue statement to the stewards. — Although knowing that as a direct result of its untrue statement to the stewards, another driver and a rival team had been unfairly penalised, made no attempt to rectify the situation either by contacting the FIA or otherwise. — On 2 April, 2009, at a second hearing before the stewards of the Australian Grand Prix, (meeting in Malaysia) made no attempt to correct the untrue statement of 29 March but, on the contrary, continued to maintain the statement was true, despite being allowed to listen to a recording of the team instructing Hamilton to let Trulli past, and despite being given more than one opportunity to correct its false statement. — On 2 April, 2009, at the second stewards’ hearing, procured its driver Hamilton to continue to assert the truth of the false statement given to the stewards on 29 March, while knowing what he was saying to the stewards was not true.