F1: ‘McLaren fine broke vote rule’ claim

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, July 6th, 2008

 
 

The FIA vote which handed McLaren a £50 million fine may not have been conducted in line with the organisation’s own rules, according to a story in today’s Independent.

The paper’s business section – you can tell it’s not sport, since their headline writer seem to think the team was founded by a football manager not a racing driver – reports that some of the people who voted on the fine may not have been entitled to.

However it acknowledges that, since no action was taken at the time, McLaren is unlikely to be able to reclaim its money retrospectively. And the obvious counter-argument for the FIA is to state that any untoward votes wouldn’t have affected the outcome anyway.

It’s also vanishingly unlikely the team would want to open that particular can of worms at this point in the season and destabilise a second World Championship bid.

However, it’s a rather interesting read, especially given some names that the paper chooses to mention. The glaringly obvious question to ask is “why now?” Clearly the fact that, on British Grand Prix day, motor racing is the biggest news going is one answer to that question.

But not a completely satisfying one, we feel. Here’s an excerpt:

F1 authorities ‘broke the rules’ over McClaren’s $100m fine

…However, not everyone who voted on the fine may have been authorised to do so. According to Article 14 of the FIA statutes, the WMSC “shall consist of … a total of 26 members who, with the exception of the president, must represent an ASN [national association] having at least one event entered on the international sporting calendar of the current year.” It doesn’t seem that this rule has been followed.

F1’s billionaire boss, Bernie Ecclestone, sits on the WMSC, but does not represent an ASN. Neither does the former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt. Although Mr Todt did not vote on the McLaren case, his authority to vote on other WMSC matters remains open to question. While both are ‘members by right’ on the council, it is arguably not the intention behind Article 14 that Mr Ecclestone and Mr Todt should be exempt from the requirement to represent an ASN.

If members of the WMSC have failed to meet the requirements of Article 14, the council has no jurisdiction to support its actions, since the statutes are the source of its power.

Any decisions taken in these circumstances would be ultra vires and possibly void. But with no challenge having been issued at the time, such decisions still stand, however the question mark remains. Read full story here…

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