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McLaren to learn 'liegate' fate today

The McLaren team will today make its case for avoiding sanction following the revelation that it was economic with the truth about the Australian Grand Prix incident that saw Toyota's Jarno Trulli penalised for passing under the safety car.

The Woking outfit is due to make another appearance in front of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris to answer five charges of bringing the sport into disrepute by deliberately misleading stewards over events which saw Trulli and Lewis Hamilton swap places twice in the space of a lap, despite the race being neutralised.

While Hamilton was seen to assume third place when Trulli ran off the road, it was less clear how the Italian reclaimed the position, with the stewards believing that he had done so illegally, penalising him 25 seconds and dropping him to the tail of the field. When summoned before the stewards, McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan and world champion Hamilton did nothing to dissuade the officials of their belief - despite the fact that Hamilton had not long given a television interview insisting that he had been instructed to allow the Toyota back through.

Subsequent investigations, including gaining access to pit-to-car transmissions, showed Hamilton and Ryan to have misled the stewards, heaping further embarrassment on a McLaren team still trying to shed a negative image acquired in the 'spygate' row of 2007. While Hamilton appears to have been absolved of any guilt following a contrite press conference at Sepang - in which he blamed Ryan for coercing him - former team principal Ron Dennis has since removed himself from the F1 side of the McLaren empire and Ryan has been dismissed by the team, despite having 35 years of previous exemplary service.

Dennis' successor Martin Whitmarsh has also written to the FIA, apologising and taking responsibility for the situation, and now looks set to appear, alone, in front of the WMSC panel to make a formal statement and answer questions before being informed of the action to be taken against his team. McLaren has confirmed that Dennis, Hamilton and Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug are unlikely to attend the hearing.

With the record $100m fine imposed following 'spygate' still fresh in the memory, possible punishments range from a mere reprimand, through loss of points, to temporary suspension or complete exclusion from the world championship. Hamilton, however, is unlikely to face sanction beyond being affected by whatever is levied against McLaren, having largely been acknowledged as an unwitting accomplice in the scandal.

Instructing its employee to back up, and then repeat, its false statement are just two of the charges McLaren faces in Paris, along with the initial sin of telling the Melbourne stewards that no instructions were given for Hamilton to move over, and two counts of taking no action to correct the official decision - despite knowing that Trulli and Toyota had been wrongly punished.

As with the majority of FIA and WMSC hearings, an outcome is not expected to be made public for 24 hours.


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Munro Gow - Unregistered

April 29, 2009 10:47 AM

Hopefully they'll hear the evidence, make a judgement and leave it at that and Mclaren take it on the chin and just get on with things. Dont think I can be bothered if they make an appeal and what not. Dont think any punishment should be any more than a slap on the wrist...for me they were punshished enough in OZ and this whole mess should have been left there



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