The McLaren team has attempted to justify its actions in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix by claiming that, rather than trying to hinder Lewis Hamilton, it was actually attempting to ensure fair play for both is drivers.

The team has been told that it will not score constructors' championship points at the Hungaroring - a punishment it has appealed - and has seen polewinner Fernando Alonso demoted to sixth on the grid for his part in the delay that left Hamilton unable to complete a second flying lap in the session, but maintains that it was not attempting to influence the outcome of the session other than by giving its drivers a shot at fastest time.

A Sunday morning missive from the team's palatial communications centre made brief reference to the problems early in the final phase of qualifying - in which Hamilton allegedly refused to allow Alonso through to complete an extra fuel-burning lap, affecting their relative position on track and, subsequently, in pit-lane - and the confusion over which tyres were fitted to the Spaniard's car, but does not directly apportion blame for either issue.

"The process of managing two such exceptional talents as Fernando and Lewis is made more challenging by having a race-winning car," an official statement from the team explained.

"Every effort was made yesterday by the team to maintain our policy of equality. However, in the heat of the battle, there are occasions when the competitive nature of drivers sees them deviate from the agreed procedures.

"During this intense and frenetic period of qualifying, decisions are necessarily made in seconds to enable the drivers and the team to position their cars on the track at the optimal moment.

"We agree with the stewards that, when the team decided to hold Fernando for 20 seconds, there were four cars on the circuit. However, we do not understand the relevance of this observation as the team needed to estimate where all the remaining cars would be in the final minutes of the session. Similarly, the team does not agree with the statement of the stewards that the 20-second hold caused Lewis to be impeded. Tensions were undeniably high and the problem at Fernando's first stop, the desire to enter a clear track and concerns expressed following the fitting of used tyres undoubtedly contributed to the delay in Fernando's ultimate departure.

"We do not believe that the findings of the stewards and the severe penalty imposed on the team are appropriate, and that our strenuous efforts to maintain the spirit of fair play and equality within the team have been misunderstood.

"We are, however, now only hours away from an important race and are focusing all our efforts on achieving the best possible result for the drivers."

The team's appeal against the loss of potential constructors' points will not be heard for several weeks, meaning that the result - at least in terms of team championship scores - will remain provisional for some time.



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