Does McLaren’s suspended sentence signal an end to hostilities with the FIA?

Hamilton and McLaren face no immediate further punishment from the FIA

Hamilton and McLaren face no immediate further punishment from the FIA

First of all, thanks to everyone who posted updates on the previous article about McLaren getting a suspended sentence following the Hamilton/Trulli controversy. (As I mentioned on Twitter earlier, I’ve been out of the country for the last two days and have only just had chance to catch up on the news.)

What caught my eye in the reaction to the story was this quote from Max Mosley:

Martin Whitmarsh made a very good impression. He’s straightforward and wants to work with us. We’re all trying to do the same thing, which is make the championship successful. Martin fully understands that and we reacted accordingly.

A lot has been written in the preceding weeks and months – on this site as well as others – about whether the FIA’s alleged harsh treatment of McLaren was caused by mutual antagonism between Max Mosley and Ron Dennis.

It reminded me of an article written by David Tremayne during the height of the ‘spygate’ sage two years ago (“Harsh punishment the result of Mosley’s war on McLaren”):

One of the least savoury aspects of this sorry saga has been the accusation that it has not just been a matter of pursuing justice, but part of the ongoing class war between team principal Ron Dennis and FIA president Max Mosley. […]

Naturally, Mosley and the FIA have vehemently denied this. But the fact remains that Dennis was told in Monza last weekend that if he were to retire from the sport, all the teams’ problems would go away.

Whether “class war” or a plain dislike of each other, the needle between Dennis and Mosley has been hard to miss. Without wishing to read too much into it, does this endorse the view that Dennis stepped down from McLaren’s F1 team earlier this month for the good of the team?

Reading the comments to the previous article there is an eagerness on the part of some to interpret McLaren’s penalty (a three-race ban suspended for 12 months) as them being let off the hook. But I think it’s important not to miss that they really are on their last chance now.

Inevitably the wider point that this entire mess was born of unclear rules and poor race management has not been addressed by the powers-that-be.

We will see similar mistakes happen in the future, though it is doubtful any team will be so naive as McLaren were, and make matters worse for themselves by not being honest with the FIA.

But anyone who thinks only McLaren have something to learn from F1’s latest squabble have missed the point.

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43 comments on Does McLaren’s suspended sentence signal an end to hostilities with the FIA?

  1. manatcna said on 30th April 2009, 1:06

    Now let’s go racing

  2. Gman said on 30th April 2009, 1:13

    I hope it is the end of the feud between McLaren and the FIA- or, in other words, Max and Ron.

  3. David (Brazil) said on 30th April 2009, 2:03

    Yes. That was definitely my impression.

  4. F1Yankee said on 30th April 2009, 2:27

    there is an urgent need to step up the officiatng to modern standards. i’ll stop short of balming the fia for this, though ;)

    do the rules allow for officiating changes mid-season, perhaps with unanimous approval? maybe max could delare force majeure.

  5. The Limit said on 30th April 2009, 2:32

    Yes, I think it will. What we must remember is that a key ingredient in Ferrari’s huge successes over the last decade was the strong relationship they had with the FIA. It is impossible to imagine, for one instant, that the Scuderia could have achieved so much by adopting a ‘militant’ approach towards the very people who govern the sport.
    McLaren went down the path of a ‘us against the world’ policy, highlighted perfectly by the arrogance and folly which was Melbourne 2009. The bottom line is that, like it or louthe it, Max Mosley and the FIA have the capacity to shut off a teams lights if they see fit.
    If a team, any team, wants to compete in F1 it has to adhere to their rules, whether they appear fair or not!
    In many ways, the fall out from Liegate was McLaren’s punishment. In the process of being exposed as liars, the team has lost Ron Dennis and Dave Ryan, and a world champion has lost a sizeable chunk of respect and trust as a sportsman.
    In my mind, no $100 million or three race ban can hide that or sweeten the victory more for those in F1 who could not stand Ron Dennis.
    After the disastrous season of 2007, not even Mercedes Benz nor other financial backers allow Dennis the opportunity to remain in charge.
    Today, we have turned a page and McLaren have turned a page. Hopefully, for the sports sake if nothing else, for the better!

  6. hitchcockm00 said on 30th April 2009, 3:07

    hmm, this is a fair enough punishment and will allow the sport to move on (until the next inevitable scandal) but it still feels as though Mclaren have got away with a very clear and disgraceful attempt at cheating.
    The more times people are allowed to get away with it relatively unscathed the more it’s going to happen. So maybe this is good for the sport in the short term but bad in the long term.

    • 000o00 said on 30th April 2009, 4:23

      I dont believe that McLaren have gotten away with anything. The fallout from these events have seriously stained McLaren’s reputation this will hit McLaren where it hurst the most – sponsorship renewal time.

      I really hope that FIA start seeing McLaren in a different light because the way they continue to persecute McLaren they way they have over the last couple of years – there will be little credbility left in the F1 as a sport.

    • hitchcockm00 said on 30th April 2009, 19:19

      Yeah I agree that the fallout is very bad for Mclaren. But that isn’t official punishment by the governing body.
      If the FIA don’t start punishing teams more harshly for this sort of thing then they’re going to risk the negative publicity if they think they can get away with breaking the rules without a proper punishment.

      Regarding Mclaren’s relationship with the FIA, I agree that the relationship needs to improve but the bad blood in recent years has been largely of Mclaren’s doing. Spy-gate etc. They can’t expect to be treated fairly if they act unfairly.
      Thankfully Martin Whitmarsh’s reaction to “lie-gate” seems to indicate that he wants to improve relations.

  7. A “change in culture” means Max finally got rid of Ron. Once again Max gets his way, but this one, in my mind is one of the worst cases. Ron Dennis is a Giant among F1 men, and Mosley could never get over the fact that a man who started off as a mechanic achieved so much, while Max could never achieve his “rightful aristocratic place” in politics. So, like a brat in the sand-box, he keeps throwing sand into the other kids eyes until he’s had enough and leaves.

    The wrong man has left the game, and I for one am sad about it. To me McLaren just won’t ever be the same without Ron Dennis. I don’t care what colour the cars are or who is driving them. Without the stern face of Ron on the pit-wall, it’s not McLaren to me. It’s not like Jean Todt leaving. Todt made for a winning streak. Dennis made the team.

    Max is touted as being big on safety, but really, after Senna’s death, who wouldn’t have been?

    • Tom said on 30th April 2009, 9:09

      I sort of agree with you here. The change in culture needs to happen in the FIA. The fact we’re talking about the relationship between FIA and McLaren, and therefore a lesser sentence, shows the FIA’s bias.

      The governing body of a sport should never show bias towards one team or another. It’s wrong

    • Arthur954 said on 30th April 2009, 14:47

      I agree. Ron actually creates and runs the cars, while Mo and Bernie shuffle papers and count the money.

      The accusation against McLaren was of “bringing the world of F1 into disrepute”.
      I would like for Mo and Bernie to define the word ” disreputable”

  8. Ninad said on 30th April 2009, 4:23

    It looks like start of hostilities between Ferrari and FIA.

  9. TeamOrders said on 30th April 2009, 4:44

    If it walks like a duck, and quacks like one, then it’s probably a duck.

    Yes, the needle between the FIA and Maclaren was a personality clash, now with Ron gone I’d expect much better relations between the two entities.

  10. mp4-19 said on 30th April 2009, 7:00

    Hats off to Max Mosley!! The swine flu infected idiot has finally seeked his revenge on Ron Dennis & McLaren. A devious ploy indeed!! It was crystal clear from the outset that Ron had stepped down from his post to avoid mclaren being expelled from the season. The FIA has pinned mclaren into submission. Keith & others please tell me, how many times have other teams withheld information, diverted attention,lied call it whatever you want & got away with it.Are they always scrutinized in the same way as mclaren? why?? Its because max mosley knows he’s a loser, can’t stand up like a man & face dennis in the eye. instead he resorts to cheap tactics. Its really sad to see the sport & its rules being used to fulfill one’s personal agenda. Max must be really ashamed of himself. The dust surrounding his own Nazi orgy spank scandal hasn’t settled yet, yet he manages to spark up somthing. Ron Dennis is a great man who rebuilt a great team. now they’ve handed a 3 race suspended ban to them??? what does it mean?? holding a team at ransom?? Poor whitmarsh, had no other choice really. FIA is a spineless organization headed by a man who has no moral values. What is it with max??? what’s dennis done to max??? if its a personal grudge, why use the sport & its rules to seek revenge?? Doesn’t it sound childish?? Just because mclaren are the only team to consistently challenge ferrari?? Max had this personal agenda, to see to that Ron leaves the sport before him stepping down. Ok i ask a simple question here- what noteworthy thing has max mosley done to retain his seat since 1993?? some of you may say he’s brought in safety blah blah blah. any other responsible person holding the same post would have done the same thing. so imo no credit should go to max on that account. infact the safety standards were upgraded only in 1996.(if one sees the hakkinen crash in adelaide 1995, his head is as exposed as senna’s or ratzenberger’s in 94) it was really hakkinen’s accident that prompted the lower seating of drivers in the cockpit & subsequently the usage of HANS device.the drivers in actual fact were exposed to the same dangers & hazards they faced in 1994. So please tell me what has Max Mosley done to this sport?? does he really deserve the credit he’s getting??

    On the other side Ron Dennis who started as a cooper mechanic rose in stature & rebuild a team which was struggling very badly. The number of technological innovations,smart engineering was done by mclaren during his tenure.he’s given so much to the sport. And he’s given an unceremonious exit???

    what has max really achieved?? nothing in reality. everyone know about you max. you are a complete retard.
    be a man max. but you prefer to be mad max,don’t you max??

    anyway its good that mclaren are concentrating on sport cars. that old mclarenf1 was really expensive!!! hope they come out with affordable cars this time around.
    Thanks to MAD MAX, McLaren are set to beat ferrari in roadcar & sports car division.

    • Achilles said on 30th April 2009, 7:20

      Forceful comments, a lot of which I find hard to disagree with, someone earlier made the comment that it is better to work with the FIA, go with the flow. Mclaren , and Ron Dennis were obviously fighting against what they saw as inequality within F1, not helped by obvious flouting of the rules by some of their bigger rivals, For me, I hope that Mclaren have not given up the fight, and continue to persue the level playing field we all want to see. The FIA, if they want to retain credulity, have to lose such an antagonistic, clearly deceitful man as Max, and establish a strong, transparent, set of regulations with a team of permanent well-trained stewards.

  11. NDINYO said on 30th April 2009, 7:09

    Saddest thing is that Max wins yet again though in this case at the expense of Dennis and probably Lewis. How intelligent is this man, that he turns his own mistakes into the failures of others? How can it be that McLaren are looking like the immoral dirty little brats when it was him who slept with Nazi whores in the first place? AAARGH!

  12. mp4-19 said on 30th April 2009, 7:24

    LINKS

    hakkinen crash 1995 adelaide(notice the cockpit area please)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1gqpQBkDuU

    ratzenberger crash 1994 san marino( head is exposed in the same way as hakkinen)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uK279uV8By0

    1996 cars( with drivers seated low in the cockpit)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFsD9NElDa4

    so it took one more nearly “fatal accident” of mika hakkinen for Max Mosley to upgrade safety.
    Then how can one argue for Max being the reason why F1 is so safe?? The idiot delayed it by a year. i find it very disturbing that not many are aware of this particular fact. please compare the 94,95 & 96 cars & find the differences in the cockpit area for yourselves.
    you’ll notice only in ’96 are the drivers seated low in the cockpit. what happened to senna could have happened to hakkinen, but for the timely medical attention of Sid Watkins.

  13. mp4-19 said on 30th April 2009, 7:26

    sorry for triple posting. but i urge all of you to see the above youtube links & comment.

  14. Oliver said on 30th April 2009, 7:44

    Lets not forget that Sauber voluntarily had cockpit head protection device in their cars after Wedllingers crash at Monaco. So they were the first to offer those raised cockpit sides before the FIA thought about it.

  15. ukk said on 30th April 2009, 8:07

    A slightly different perspective:
    A few years ago Ferrari entered a “honeymoon” with FIA resulting in Ferrari supporting FIA’s change proposals and FIA paying them more money (i.e. an extra 40 mio) than any other team. As a result neither was going too hard on the other.

    … until now – Ferrari bite the hand that fed it – they publicly went against FIA on 3 topics: KERS, budget caps and most notably – the diffusers hearing.

    Could it be that the wheel is turning, Ferrari becoming not so popular with FIA and with Martin Whitmarsh at the helm McLaren lining up for their next “favorite kid”?

  16. Baz said on 30th April 2009, 8:24

    The cynical side of me thinks, what does the FIA have on McLaren [from Australia] that they can play as the joker should McLaren remotely look like they’re going to win the WDC? But Max’s damning “a change in culture” remark, no doubt aimed at Ron, suggest that there maybe calmer times ahead and we can get back to some racing. Hooray!!! Only time will tell if this is the dawning of a new era between McLaren and the FIA.

    But it still doesn’t change the fact that decisions to punish teams/drivers isn’t based on fairness but on personalities, which suggests that we’re still going to get inconsistencies in how the rules are applied. After all, the phrase “bringing the sport into disrepute” is still very much open to interpretation, like many F1 rules, and with Max seemingly winning the war with Ron, despite literally being caught with his trousers down, sends out a message to other teams, “Don’t get on the wrong side of me”.

    Max reminds me of those baddy prison wardens in Hollywood movies like Shawshank Redemption. But if I remember correctly, they all get their comeuppance.

    • Max reminds me of those baddy prison wardens in Hollywood movies like Shawshank Redemption.

      Hey, I thought Max actually played the prisoner in the movie, no? :-)

  17. DGR-F1 said on 30th April 2009, 8:25

    Keith: ‘Nax Mosley’, were you out of the country too long? :-)
    First of all, I have to agree this ‘suspended’ race ban does nothing to let McLaren off the hook. If anything it now means open season against the team from all those FIA Stewards who support Max. McLaren will have to tread very carefully not to be penalised for the rest of the year, and even then, who questions the Stewards?
    If they were wrong, suspend them. If they are in the clear then say so. This is just SILLY.
    Secondly, I think McLaren have been suffering, and probably still are suffering, from Corporate Syndrome, on a level similar to Ferrari and Renault. Since the tie in with Mercedes, and Daimler AG having a controlling stake in the team, the emphasis has been away from engineering excellance and driver requirements, and more towards the needs of the shareholders and the sponsors. Big Ron was finding it hard to please all of the people all of the time – especially drivers like Alonso!
    It has been pointed out that Ron comes from a very down to earth mechanics background, so maybe he just wasn’t the right person to deal with the ever political FOM and FIA idiots. Maybe Martin Whitmarsh has a better understanding, but I think even he will find it hard.
    I would like to know why Ron and Max were so against each other. Ron was chief mechanic (I think) at Brabham when Max and Bernie owned it, so was there some problem then?

  18. Ronman said on 30th April 2009, 8:33

    Although I didn’t like yesterday’s outcome, I am first and foremost an F1 fan, and as such I cant wait till the racing continues.

    I just hope that the FIA clears up the SC car mele that happens…

    Now that we are setting our sights on Barcelona, it is important to point out how fast McLaren are improving… it is expected of a team such as that, but is Ferrari’s lack of improvment an indicator of which team among the two is the better one?

    Ferrari’s performance so far this season, sucks, (and I’m a fan [almost used to be]), and McLaren’s surge cannot be disregarded, which leads me to think, between the two it’s the latter that is acting like a champion development wise, rather than the former… (bar the ethical side of course) but that will always come back and bite them….

    hoping for a season with no more …-gates in it… just checkered flags and screaming cars…

  19. PJA said on 30th April 2009, 9:01

    What I took from the comments Max Mosley made after the hearing was now that Ron Dennis has left McLaren, the punishment was not as bad as it would have been.

    The message Mosley wanted to send to McLaren and F1 in general is I am the boss and don’t you forget it.

  20. Oliver said on 30th April 2009, 9:01

    As mad as Max is, I think this is finally the end of it, well at least until Mclaren shoot themselves in the foot again. I believe Max is sensible enough to know that bringing up any “new evidence” would just make him look very stupid, although I’m now not very sure about what I’m writing :-)

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