McLaren are off the hook. Well, sort of. The FIA has given the British team a suspended three-race ban for misleading stewards at the Australian Grand Prix.
The sentence means that McLaren won’t face a ban or a fine for their behaviour during the ‘Liegate’ affair, in which McLaren were accused of manipulating the evidence to allow Hamilton to gain third place over Jarno Trulli.
Instead, it’s no more than a slap on the wrists for the team and a warning not to be naughty in the future – the FIA says it will only apply the fine “if further facts emerge regarding the case or if, in the next 12 months, there is a further breach by the team of […] the International Sporting Code.”
The FIA commended the behaviour of McLaren in the aftermath of the affair, saying that team boss Martin Whitmarsh had been ‘open and honest’ with them. McLaren’s decision to sack long-serving sporting director Dave Ryan, along with Big Ron’s move away from F1 operations, can’t have hurt their cause either.
After the incident, Whitmarsh wrote to FIA boss Max Mosley to offer an ‘unreserved apology’ for the team’s behaviour. The team principle also arrived at the hearing today without an entourage of lawyers – a further indication of a softer, more humble approach from McLaren.
“They have demonstrated there is a complete culture change, that it’s all different to what it was,” said Mosley after the hearing. “In those circumstances it looks better to put the whole thing behind us, so unless there is something similar in the future, that is the end of the matter.”
So what do you think? A fair decision? And is this really a new, fluffy McLaren we’re seeing?