McLaren out of ’07 championship and fined $100m

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Istanbul, 2007 | Daimler ChryslerThe FIA have announced that McLaren will not score constructors’ championship points this year and face an unprecedented $100m fine for their role in the espionage case.

However Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso will still be allowed to score points towards the drivers’ championship.

McLaren will also not be allowed any constructor’s representatives on the podium for the rest of the year.

Here are the day’s developments as they happened:

Lewis Hamilton and Pedro de la Rosa were present at the hearing; Fernando Alonso was not. Recent developments in the case have centred on a purported exchange of e-mails between de la Rosa and Alonso. The pair (and Hamilton) were asked to supply any e-mails relevant to the case and told they would be immune from punishment if they did.

According to Auto Motor und Sport McLaren were prepared to claim that its former engineer Phil Mackereth had taken three discs of plans to Renault. However the FIA stated that this would be the subject of a separate investigation of necessary and has no bearing on the current hearing.

16:36 (UK time) – claims that McLaren will be banned or face a suspension of constructors’ points in 2007 and 2008, but the website stresses these are ‘unconfirmed reports’ from an unnamed source. Other websites are running similar but unconfirmed stories.

17:29Planet-F1 has clarified the ‘McLaren are banned’ story, claiming that the puishment of exclusion from the 2007 and 2008 championships was put forward by the World Motor Sports Council, but no verdict has yet been reached.

17:48 – No further updates, but it’s perhaps worth mentioning this piece in the Daily Mail which claims to contain details of the e-mails sent between Alonso and de la Rosa. It cites one of them which says, “Let’s try these new things. They are from Ferrari. Nigel Stepney has sent them to Mike Coughlan.” Are the quotes accurately? Apparently they are the same as those that Italian journalist Pino Allevi hypothesised might have been said in such an e-mail. can’t resist having a dig at the websites who ran the ‘McLaren banned’ story without checking it…

18:06Autosport, whose website appeared to have crashed for around an hour, have issued a similar clarification and an apology about the WMSC verdict story.

18:19 – According to BBC Radio 5 Live McLaren will not score constructors’ championship points this year and pay a $100m (???49.2m) fine. However their drivers will still be allowed to score points towards their championship. McLaren will also not be allowed any constructors’ representatives on the podium for the rest of the year.

It is the biggest fine ever imposed upon a Formula 1 team. It clearly points to a serious breach of the regulations on the part of McLaren. The only saving grace is that their drivers will still be allowed to fight for ‘the title that matters’. Ron Dennis is expected to give a statement in one hour’s time.

On top of the fine, losing the constructors’ championship points means they will also lose any discounts on travel costs they would have earned. They have also been told that their 2008 car will be independently scrutinised for the presence of Ferrari intellectual property.

18:37 – McLaren are understood to be planning to appeal. If they do choose to do so they will have to do so through the British motor sport governing body, the Royal Automobile Club.

18:56 – According to Reuters, Max Mosley was asked if he felt justice had been done. He answered, “Yes”.

19:15 – Ferrari has issued a press release stating it is ‘satisfied’ that the truth has emerged. They added: “In light of new evidence, facts and behaviour of an extremely serious nature and grossly prejudicial to the interest of the sport have been further demonstrated.”

The FIA will release full details of the reasoning behind the verdict tomorrow. It also confirmed that the drivers were not penalised points in the drivers’ championship because of the evidence they handed over to the FIA.

19:49 – At a press conference Ron Dennis said: “The important thing is that we can go racing and compete for the rest of the season. We don’t accept the reasons for being penalised.” He added that his future at the team was not in question, re-iterated that the team had not used Ferrari intellectual property and said that he remained: “Committed to competition and passionate about motor racing.”

20:25 – Further details from the McLaren press conference. Dennis said: “We clearly demonstrated that we did not use any leaked information to gain a competitive advantage. The entire engineering team provided statements affirming they had never used Ferrari information.

“The case is, was this information used by McLaren? This has not been proven today.”

The new evidence presented was largely emails and text messages sent between Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Pedro de la Rosa, and one with Mike Coughlan.

Martin Whitmarsh stated that McLaren will announce tomorrow whether they are going to appeal, having seen the full verdict by the FIA. When asked whether other teams should be punished for similar infringements (a possible reference to the alleged connection to Renault) he refused to be drawn on whether they should also be punished.

Asked about the difficulties presented by the fine, Dennis said that McLaren has a turnover of $450-500m turnover and no debt, and he felt they should be able to manage it – even joking about asking Norbert Haug of Mercedes whether they would pay half.

20:30 – According to McLaren will not lose the prize money it has accrued so far this year.

Photo: Daimler Chrysler

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53 comments on “McLaren out of ’07 championship and fined $100m”

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  1. PlanetF1 are reporting that McLaren have been excluded from this and next year’s championships! Not sure if it is the driver’s and constructor’s as of yet.,18954,3213_2726626,00.html

  2. the exclusion news are all over web, no details though, autosport’s site seems to have crashed …

  3. Autosport pulled their “expelled from 07-08” story and now say no verdict has been reached.

  4. are reporting that the World Council are still debating the issue and no decision has been reached.

  5. Keith Humphreys
    13th September 2007, 18:13

    Radio 5 live are adamant that McLaren have been badly mauled in Paris and will be excluded from this years and 2008 manufacturers championship – Mercedes F1 team for 2008?

  6. If they are building a car using illegal information are they not also driving one? How can you exclude one championship and not the other?!?

    For the record I do not want to see them banned from either. At most there should be a massive fine to deter teams from doing this in the future.

  7. are you sure they’ll lose prize money? says the opposite.

  8. Until we here the statement from the FIA and also Ron Dennis we can only guess as to why only the constructor was punished, but my guess is that the FIA cannot prove that the Ferrari data was used in improving their cars, only that they had used it as the basis of complaints lodged against ferrari for illegal elements on the car, as well as the fact that it appears that many people within the team knew of it’s existence.

    Also, well done F1fanatic for being the first proper F1 site to have the verdict, it took all the others a good few minutes to catch up with you.

  9. No they will get prize money, I meant to just write travel discounts, my typo. Thanks for the thanks!

  10. Mclaren deserving of its punishments! More too probably, This can only clean up the sport…Mclaren only seem concerned about the money…they may have got off lightly!!!

  11. This is rather sad for everyone involved.

    1. McLaren acted poorly as an organization/business. By keeping in their employ someone who was breaking the “law.”

    2. The FIA convening the meeting(s) with the WMSC on a purely ad hoc basis.

    3. Ferrari and Jean Todt for not taking responsibility of their own man (Nigel Stepney) and complaining like little prats.

    4. A number of the British media outlets/websites for authoritatively presuming/proclaiming that McLaren could not have possibly done anything wrong.

    -Sean from Minnesota, USA.

  12. Agree. Law was broken, punishment should be meted out.

    Unless one sticks to the stand of many F1 websites that this is no big deal, McLaren should be exonerated, as Ferrari is no white angel…

  13. Why does the sum of fine make 100 millions exactly, instead of 10 or 200?

  14. I agree with Sean about the British press…Hamilton tinted glasses..they are building him up to strip him down..again fair play FIA!

  15. I agree with Dan M, if the FIA have decided that McLaren cheated, then Alonso and Hamilton have been driving an illegal car. So how the hell are they allowed to keep their points?

  16. I’m going to reserve judgement on that until the FIA release the justification for the decision.

  17. Bernard Marsden
    13th September 2007, 20:57

    Wether the fine & punishment is fair, I cannot comment. What I would like to know is where does the fine money go – to improving safety on the track, or will it pay off ITV for the for the excessively long advert breaks in the middle of live racing. We don’t have breaks in football or rugby matches (apart from half time) so why in F1 ???

  18. I guess Ferrari International Assistance really does exist!

  19. From reading the FIA statement(that I read somewhere other than the FIA site that I can’t get to come up) it looks like if the ’08 car, which must be fairly well into developement already, contains any Ferrari-hybrids then McLaren could face even further penalty?

    And if as rumour has it, Renault also has/had similar data this could be a long way from over.

  20. And why was The Ham there if these emails were based around Alonso, who happened to be at the track a day early?

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