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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