Is Bernie Ecclestone sticking up for McLaren again?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Bernie Ecclestone, Indianapolis, 2007 | GEPA / Franz PammerRumours abound that McLaren will not have to set up base at the poor end of the pit lane this year after all.

Frecon spotted this in a Spanish newspaper and the report has also been run by the Finnish publication Turun Sanomat. Allegedly, Bernie Ecclestone has struck a deal with the teams to let McLaren take the fifth place on the pit lane, between Williams and Red Bull.

McLaren’s punishment following the espionage case last year saw them thrown out of the constructors’ championship. That should have led to them occupying the last space in the pit lane.

This would leave them with less room for their equipment and further away from the most prestigious end of the pit lane, making racing and PR duties more difficult.

Ordinarily F1 teams have to line up in the order in which they finished in the previous season’s constructors’ championship so on the face of it, it’s just another part of McLaren’s punishment they have to live with.

There doesn’t appear to be anything against it in the rules, in which case if the other teams have agreed to it then no-one has actually done anything wrong.

But if Ecclestone has helped them broker a better deal it’s very interesting. It’s already well known that it was Ecclestone who talked several top F1 representatives down from throwing McLaren’s drivers out of the 2007 world championship along with the team. Max Mosley has since admitted that he thought they should have been excluded and Ecclestone argued against it.

Ecclestone was also present at the launch of the 2008 McLaren which is quite unusual – I think the last launch he attended was on Toyota’s arrival into the sport in 2002.

Assuming this is all true, what is Ecclestone up to? Is he looking out for the team that runs F1’s golden goose Lewis Hamilton? Of course, Ecclestone did oppose Hamilton becoming champion during the fuel controversy at the end of last year.

Or does he perhaps feel bad that what McLaren got busted last year for something that was nothing like as bad as what he got away with as team boss at Brabham in the early ’80s?

Photo copyright: Red Bull / GEPA

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