2009 Australian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton has apologised for his role in the Australian Grand Prix controversy after being vilified in the British and international press this morning.
What will be the consequences for Hamilton’s reputation and the team’s? Will it have any repercussions for Hamilton’s career? And how has it affected the fans’ view of him?
McLaren admits guilt
McLaren’s decision not to appeal Hamilton’s exclusion from the Australian Grand Prix was the first sign that McLaren were backing down over the matter.
That was followed this morning by the suspension of sporting director Dave Ryan and Martin Whitmarsh stating quite frankly that the team had lied to the stewards including Hamilton, under instruction from Ryan:
It has become clear from discussions with Dave last night and through into this morning that during the stewards meeting after the Australian Grand Prix, he was not entirely full and truthful in the answers he gave the stewards.
Asked if Hamilton had told the truth Whitmarsh added:
No. I think that Lewis was not entirely truthful, but we have spoken to Davey. He was the senior member of the team and they went into the situation together.
Hamilton later gave a press conference in which he issued a startlingly direct mea culpa while, according to James Allen “his voice [was] cracking at times, his body language full of anguish and regret”:
For me, the situation is definitely the worst thing I’ve experienced in my life. That is why I am here. It is right for me as a human being and as a man to stand in front of you all and tell you exactly what went on and put up my hands. I cannot tell you how sorry I am. I’m sorry to my team and my family for the embarrassment. It is a very, very embarrassing situation.
He has, at least, avoided the mistake of not saying sorry.
‘Say it ain’t so, Joe’
Had the apology come 24 hours earlier Hamilton might have been spared the full heat of the British press’s reaction:
In a damning judgment of the conduct of Hamilton and his team, who were fined $100 million (now about £68 million) by the FIA for cheating in 2007 over the “spy-gate” affair, the Melbourne stewards, who reconvened here in Kuala Lumpur, made it clear that they believe Hamilton and McLaren had not told the truth.
Ed Gorman, The Times
Lewis Hamilton was last night branded a liar in the Aussie GP storm.
Michael Spearman, The Sun
Lewis Hamilton’s reputation for sporting fairness is in tatters this morning after he was sensationally found guilty of lying and cheating his way to third place in last Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.
Jonathan McEvoy, Daily Mail
It’s no surprise that the revelation of Hamilton being caught red-handed is the lead story. But what do his fans make of it? I’ll leave it up to you to tell me that in the comments.
Hamilton and McLaren
There are other aspects to this story beyond the simple fact of Hamilton and McLaren getting caught not telling the truth.
To begin with, the radio transcripts published by the FIA show it was McLaren, not Hamilton, who decided (incorrectly) to let Trulli past. Had Hamilton not bothered to consult the team, and stayed ahead of Trulli, the problem could have been avoided.
Hamilton may well consider his interests would have been better served by not bringing it up with the team, and take similar decisions without consulting them in future.
Hamilton has already hinted once this year that he may not stay with McLaren for the rest of his career, which he first indicated he would do after his world championship success last year. Despite the swift removal of the individual McLaren claims bore principal responsibility the episode may have fatally weakened the bonds between team and driver.
McLaren will hope their submissions today will mean the end of the matter for the time being. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that over at Renault is a driver who might one day tell us some more interesting stories about McLaren’s radio communications.
Read the second part of this post: Two sides to the Hamilton-Trulli controversy: Another avoidable crisis
More of the press reaction
- Lewis Hamilton facing exclusion from world championship over McLaren ‘lies’ – Daily Mirror
- Hamilton docked points for ‘lying’ – The Independent
- Lewis Hamilton faces suspension for ‘misleading’ race officials – The Guardian
- Lewis Hamilton branded ‘liar’ and stripped of Australian Grand Prix points – Daily Telegraph
- ‘Liar’ Lewis – Daily Star
- Lewis and team could face expulsion