McLaren out of ’07 championship and fined $100m

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) – Pitpass.com 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.

17:55Grandprix.com 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 Grandprix.com 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

  1. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th September 2007, 20:49

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

  2. Bernard Marsden said on 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 ???

  3. wayne Baillie said on 13th September 2007, 21:02

    I guess Ferrari International Assistance really does exist!

  4. verasaki said on 13th September 2007, 21:08

    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.

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

  6. When Lewis or Fernando wins the championship we are going to go through this again when Ferrari says they did it with an illegal car!( that was never proved )I just can’t wrap my head around the way the FIA does things!McLaren was properly fined in my opinion for having the documents but,if the car is legal why are they taking away constructors points?

  7. for the british is not important “how” but “who” wins the championship:mr.Hamilton of course ,the best driver ever in the planet …bla bla bla……Even if is driving a a mclaren with Ferrari knowhow and all the other parts , is still ok as long he can win ; everything illegal for any other team will be fine as long is a british driver driving a british car.
    Congratulations you are officially “the best cheating formula 1 team”
    Regards

  8. verasaki said on 13th September 2007, 22:00

    Perhaps there is something in the rules about unsporting behaviour? I imagine they could take them away based on that as well as impose a fine. Or, if they used any of the data either to gain an advantage or to bring a Ferrari infraction to the FIA’s attention (which is what everyone believes they did)that would explain it. This year’s model wouldn’t necessarily have to be illegal.

  9. AJ14Foyt said on 13th September 2007, 22:02

    The drivers received immunity as a condition of supplying the info – thus its no surprise there is no affect there. Obviously the information provided by the drivers is much different than what McLaren had characterized last time around. I think McLaren got off lucky – they could have been banned next year as well.

  10. Bernard Marsden said on 13th September 2007, 22:22

    The drivers received immunity because without it, there would be no point in them racing. Ferrari would have been handed the championship as there would have been no competition. Not a lot of people want to watch a ‘one horse race’ and attendance/vewing figures along with sponsorship would drop dramatically. No Maclaren 2008 would effectively kill F1 as we know it. All about money as always – not sport !!

  11. I think I am going to watch other types of racing the rest of the season and come back next year and watch BMW contend when they are even stronger.Maybe see some racing instead of a soap opera.All of this unsporting conduct has made me sour.I am an American who is trying to get into this sport because I love racing and the formula one cars are amazing,even after the Schumacher and Michelin incidents at Indianapolis and the loss of the U.S. Grand Prix I am still trying but,this season could have been one of the best seasons in a while with FOUR drivers battling for the title but, alas,white powder,stolen documents,stupid confusing qualy rules,whining drivers,Bernie,and for crying out loud THE FIA!I will just visit here and keep up but,I am not watching another race this season.

  12. The only part of the ferrari mclaren stole was the Vodaphone logo
    As far as im concerned, this is just Ferrari getting back at Mclaren for stealing Vodafone so publicly from them last year, and its also payback from the FIA for Mercedes’ GPMA pull away stance a few years back. Its a collosal fraud and a disgrace by the FIA, specifically max mosley, in my opinion mosley has lost all credibility and should resign.

  13. The size of the fine and the effect of the exclusion from the constructors’ title will hit the drivers and guarantees this case will hit the civil courts. It is ludicrously high and clearly designed to get mclaren out of the sport. $100m is phenomenal and just so far out of proportion that this has to be a vendetta. No amount of ferrari technical info could create such a pecuniary advantage to mclaren and so there is no way this could be upheld in a proper court of law.

    This drafs the F1 governors into disrepute and shows thay have lost all common sense. It is truly bizarre. i hope and pray it is a misprint for the sake of the sport I love and which had just got interesting again for all the right reasons.

  14. Wesley said on 14th September 2007, 2:11

    I stated earlier that McLaren deserved to be fined but,I agree this fine is WAY too steep,and yes,Mosley should resign.I am not pro McLaren but,I am anti-Ferrari.I wish Kimi would switch teams.

    By the way Keith,way to stay on top of this story today.

  15. Daniel said on 14th September 2007, 2:25

    About the fine, the official statement says: “100 million less the FOM income lost as a result of the points deduction”
    So, how much money does FOM give the top teams? Is it the payment for their image rights?
    I’m curious about that because, depending on the value, it sounds like the fine means they will lose significant support, but they will be able to handle this with their sponsors…
    Anyone knows how much will McLaren effectively pay?
    On the constructors’ championship points, I already expected that, as I said elsewhere…
    Now, the drivers’ championship has only two true contenders, unless a reliability tragedy hits McLaren, or a huge share of bad luck…

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