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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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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