Mixed reaction in press to McLaren’s punishment

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, Istanbul, McLaren-Mercedes, 2007, 2 | DaimlerChryslerDepending on which newspaper you pick up this morning you might feel that justice has been done in the F1 espionage hearing, or that McLaren have been unfairly treated by an institution that is biased against them.

One even suggests that Lewis Hamilton may end up at Prodrive next year, if McLaren’s appeal leads to an even tougher verdict against them being handed down.

Here’s what the British papers had to say.

Writing in The Guardian, Richard Williams reckons the FIA have gone out of their way to avoid punishing Lewis Hamilton while giving McLaren the harshest punishment it can. He also suggests that McLaren have something to learn from the outcome:

Dennis is proud of the company’s “matrix” management, which replaced the conventional pyramid system of managerial responsibilities. But there must have been something wrong with the structure if the illegalities seemingly instigated by Mike Coughlan, a senior figure on the technical side, could take place without the knowledge of the top man. Dennis should be asking himself if his managerial instincts are as sharp as they once were.

Ed Gorman in The Times is more forthright, insisting the time has come to accept that McLaren were cheating, regardless of what new proof has actually come to light (which, at the time of writing, has still not been published by the FIA):

At some point the arguments about moral equivalence, about the history of the key players, about whether other teams could be said to be in exactly the same position as McLaren, about the rights and wrongs of so-called ?????ǣwhistleblowers??????, about whether Coughlan was a ?????ǣlone wolf?????? acting on his own (as Dennis claimed), have to be set aside and cheating has to be recognised for what it is.

But The Independent takes an aggressive line against the FIA’s verdict. David Tremayne reckons the roots of the decision are in ax Mosley’s dislike of Ron Dennis, and claims that the rest of the paddock are unhappy with Ferrari’s ‘win at all costs’ approach:

Stripping McLaren of all of their world championship points is excessively harsh, given that the period in which their car may or may not have benefited from the Ferrari information effectively ran from March to August… And that $100m fine? It is unprecedented and Draconian, and clearly designed to grab world headlines. Perhaps it was just the late hour at which the official statement was written, perhaps it was genuine obfuscation, but the net effect is that the day after the decision, all the world will remember is a massive fine, whether or not that is what McLaren will ever actually pay.

Lastly The Daily Telegraph asks whether the consequence of this could see Lewis Hamilton in a Prodrive-run McLaren chassis next year…

What will happen in 2008, if the worst expectations of McLaren are realised and a subsequent meeting of the World Motorsport Council bans them from competition in 2008? Will Hamilton and Alonso be left kicking their heels on a ruinously expensive sabbatical?

‘Analysis’ in the other papers doesn’t go much beyond ‘ooh, that’s a lot of money’ and ‘at least Our Lewis is alright’.

Photo: DaimlerChrysler

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