Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone have offered their opinions on the verdict handed down to McLaren-Mercedes over the Melbourne 'lies' scandal, with the former contending that the message has now finally been received and understood, but the latter suggesting that the team got away lightly.
The FIA World Motorsport Council met in Paris today to debate whether or not the Woking-based outfit deserved further punishment for having been found guilty of bringing Formula 1 into disrepute – for the second time in three years – by lying to stewards in the aftermath of last month's curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, ostensibly in a bid to inherit the final podium position from Toyota's Jarno Trulli by default.
A suspended ban was ultimately meted out to the multiple world champions, meaning no penalty will be applied unless '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' [see separate story – click here
]. Whilst replying to a question about whether McLaren got out of jail relatively free with a 'probably, yes', F1 commercial rights-holder Ecclestone did concede that the end result was largely the right outcome to the sport's latest unsavoury episode.
“Good,” the 78-year-old summarised, speaking to the BBC
. “[It was] fair and honest and straightforward. I thought Martin [Whitmarsh – McLaren team principal] was happy with that; they knew they'd done something wrong and they got a slap.”
“We think it's entirely fair,” concurred Mosley. “They've demonstrated there's a complete culture change – it's all different to how it was – and in those circumstances it looks better to put the whole thing behind us, which is what we've done. Unless there's something similar in the future, that's the end of the matter.”
The FIA President added that in his view McLaren had not got off especially lightly, and sought to stress the improvement in relations between the team and F1's governing body now that Whitmarsh is at the helm. Predecessor Ron Dennis and Mosley shared a notoriously frosty relationship, that some argue played a part in the sporting record $100 million fine and constructors' world championship disqualification that McLaren received for its involvement in the infamous espionage row of 2007.
“In the end they were decisions taken by people who are no longer involved,” the 68-year-old continued, alluding to the squad's respected long-time sporting director Dave Ryan, who has since been dismissed, “and I think in that case it would have been unfair to go on with the matter. They did suffer – they lost all of their points from Australia – so I think we've done enough and I think it's fair.
“Martin Whitmarsh made a very good impression. He's obviously absolutely straightforward and wants to work with us. We're all trying to do the same thing, which is to make the championship successful and hope that the best team wins, and I think Martin fully understands that and the world council reacted accordingly.”
Had they adopted a similarly contrite and apologetic approach two years ago, he reasoned, things might have been different, claiming: “It would have saved everybody – including McLaren – a lot of time, trouble and money. In 2007 [they made things very difficult for themselves]; this time I think they've got the message, and I think they've done a very good job.”