McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has thanked the FIA's World Motor Sport Council for the way in which the events of the Australian Grand Prix were handled at its hearing in Paris, despite admitting to having made 'serious mistakes' in the way it conducted itself at the opening round of the world championship.
No doubt relieved not to have seen his brief tenure at the head of the Woking team result in exclusion from the world championship - as had been mooted as one possible outcome of the investigation into five charges of bringing the sport into disrepute over claims that it deliberately misled stewards - Whitmarsh again promised to forge closer links with the governing body and reform the culture within McLaren so that allegations of underhand practice can be eradicated.
Despite the various punishments on offer, the World Motor Sport Council decided, after hearing from Whitmarsh in person, that it would not impose any immediate sanction on McLaren, preferring instead to leave the threat dangling over the team's head pending any future indiscretions.
"Having regard to the open and honest way in which McLaren team principal, Mr Martin Whitmarsh, addressed the WMSC, and the change in culture which he made clear has taken place in his organisation, the WMSC decided to suspend the application of the penalty it deems appropriate," an official statement from the FIA confirmed, "The penalty is a suspension of the team from three races of the F1 world championship [but] this will only be applied if further facts emerge regarding the case or if, in the next twelve months, there is a further breach by the team of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code."
McLaren's statement in response to the outcome not only outlined its acceptance of the decision, but also thanked the WMSC members for 'the very fair hearing' the team felt it had received.
"I would like to thank the FIA World Motor Sport Council members for affording me the opportunity to answer their questions this morning," Whitmarsh commented, "We are aware that we made serious mistakes in Australia and Malaysia, and I was therefore very glad to be able to apologise for those mistakes once again. I was also pleased to be able to assure the FIA World Motor Sport Council members that we had taken appropriate action with a view to ensuring that such mistakes do not occur again."
Vowing to get its act together on track as well as off, particularly following the encouragement of Hamilton's fourth place in Bahrain at the weekend, McLaren was joined in expressing its desire to put the matter behind it by engine partner Mercedes-Benz.
"Our team has co-operated and communicated with the responsible FIA authorities in a very frank and open way, and the World Motor Sport Council has taken this into consideration and rated positively," motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug commented, "This issue is now behind us, now the sport instead of the politics is in the foreground - this is what the spectators like much better and, honestly, I like it much, much better.
"It was a fair verdict and I want to thank all members of the World Motor Sport Council for their balanced view on the case and the respective procedure. [With regard to] the suspension, I have no concerns - we will handle issues of that kind with the utmost precision and cautiousness and not make any mistakes."