Lewis Hamilton has 'bridges to build' with his McLaren-Mercedes team over the Melbourne 'lies' scandal, with his mechanics said to be 'unhappy' and 'upset' at the defending Formula 1 World Champion's threat to quit following the controversy and the manner in which he cast Dave Ryan into the role of 'fall guy'.
After being caught trying to 'deliberately mislead' the FIA over the late-race incident in the 2009 curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix last month – one that saw Hamilton pass and then let re-pass the Toyota of Jarno Trulli when the Toyota ran off the track, ostensibly in a bid to get the Italian penalised and inherit the final podium position – McLaren now faces an appearance before the FIA's World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Paris at the end of this month, where further sanctions may be meted out...ranging as far as possible exclusion from the entire season.
Hamilton made an emotional public apology a week later in Sepang, repeatedly insisting that he is 'not a liar' and contending that he had been similarly 'misled' by the Woking-based outfit's respected long-time sporting director Ryan, a man who he suggested had instructed him to follow his lead in not being honest when questioned by Albert Park race stewards – and who was subsequently dismissed in the fall-out, with team principal Martin Whitmarsh claiming that as the 'senior' team member involved, it was the Kiwi who was ultimately responsible.
What's more, the Stevenage-born ace even went so far as to write to FIA President Max Mosley saying he was prepared to walk away from the sport as his once glittering reputation hangs precariously in the balance. He has since reportedly also threatened to break his £75 million, five-year McLaren contract should the team find itself banned or suspended from a number of grands prix on 29 April.
That has left the 24-year-old's mechanics furious that Ryan has been made the scapegoat after 35 years' loyal and dedicated service, with many arguing that Hamilton's actions in the wake of the row could not have been more in contrast to that.
“The mechanics are unhappy with Lewis,” a team insider told the News of the World
, “and he has got a lot of bridges to rebuild. They have all known Davey for many, many years and are upset that he became the fall guy.
“Then there was the talk of Lewis threatening to quit the team. That did not go down well because we feel he should have shown more support after the work we've done for him. The guys put all the hours in and don't get anywhere near the rewards he does.”
Meanwhile, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has hinted that the departure of Ron Dennis – a sworn enemy of Mosley's and the man who stood at the helm of McLaren for 28 years until last month – is unlikely to guarantee the multiple former world champions an easier ride in Paris. Having already ceded his position as team principal to erstwhile deputy Martin Whitmarsh, the 61-year-old subsequently cut his ties with the squad altogether last week [see separate story – click here
“The fact that Ron has gone does not change things,” insisted Formula One Management chief executive Ecclestone, himself a member of the WMSC. “This is an issue for the McLaren team to deal with. They still face the same range of punishments if the WMSC find them guilty.