Despite being relegated to last place in the 2007 constructors' world championship as punishment for its involvement in Formula 1's spying scandal, McLaren-Mercedes may yet avoid the ignominy of having to occupy the final – and smallest – garage in the pit-lane.
The Woking-based outfit will run the numbers 22 and 23 on its brace of MP4-23s this year – to be driven by Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen – and should, following regulations, be housed in the farthest pit box at each track the grand prix circus visits. However, it would appear that thanks to an intervention from Bernie Ecclestone, this will not now be the case.
According to Finnish daily newspaper Turun Sanomat
, the sport's ringmaster has ordered that McLaren be housed in the fifth garage along – initially to be home to Red Bull Racing. This reshuffle is believed to be to allow the other one of F1's 'Big Two' teams – along with Ferrari – to have easy access to first-class circuit amenities.
The paper also reports that Ecclestone had made attempts to get McLaren into the third pit garage, but that its present incumbent – former title-winner Renault – objected. At the majority of F1 circuits, the first three pit garages are wider than the others and comprise superior facilities for team members and guests.
McLaren would not confirm the report.