Will Lewis Hamilton have a potentially championship-winning car at his disposal in 2008? Or will he be forced to compete in a machine that’s been hobbled because it’s considered illegal?
That question will not be answered until February – leaving McLaren with less than a month to cope with any consequences before it is required to line up on the starting grid in Melbourne.
The World Motor Sport Council has received a report from the FIA following its investigation into whether the 2008 McLaren car had any influences that could be traced back to Ferrari.
It has decided that McLaren, Ferrari and the other F1 teams should be given an opportunity to comment on that report before it takes any further action.
It has called an extraordinary general meeting for February 14 to hear those comments. It seems fair to suggest that it may need further time to consider what it hears.
The Australian Grand Prix takes place on March 16.
So McLaren is unlikely to find out whether or not its car is considered to be illegal, or in the frame for a points penalty, until nail-bitingly close to the start of the season.
The team has issued the following laconic statement: “McLaren acknowledges the World Motor Sport Council’s announcement to defer its decision regarding the team’s 2008 car to an extraordinary general meeting to be held on Thursday 14th February 2008 in Paris.
“From the very beginning McLaren has provided the FIA with full access and complete co-operation, and remains confident no confidential information has been incorporated within the team’s 2007 and 2008 cars.”