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F1: Whitmarsh denies it’s McLaren against the world

Disturbing signs that the McLaren F1 team might be developing a siege mentality began to emerge after the French Grand Prix saw their drivers weighed down under an avalanche of penalties that effectively smothered their hopes.

A 10th-place finish was all Lewis Hamilton could muster after a drive-through penalty for cutting a chicane while overtaking destroyed his chances of fighting back from the 10-place grid demotion imposed for his accident in the pitlane during the Canadian Grand Prix.


And Heikki Kovalainen was denied a likely podium finish by the five-place grid penalty he was given for blocking Mark Webber in a qualifying incident that seemed as much Kuzuki Nakajima’s fault as the Finn’s.

After the race Hamilton was defiant: “There’s nothing you can do that can distract me. You can keep on giving me penalties and whatever you want to do and I’ll keep battling and try and come back with a result.”

Asked directly whether he felt “if you are driving a silver car you’re going to get a penalty, there’s almost an inevitability to it,” he refused to answer. Nor would he say whether he thought the drive-through penalty was justified.

The demeanour of team boss Ron Dennis after the race suggested the McLaren camp was far from convinced that three penalties in quick succession were evidence of even-handed treatment. “Draw your own conclusion,” he invited broadcaster ITV.

“I’m sure Ron didn’t indicate that really,” said McLaren F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh later when he emerged to make it clear the team did not believe the FIA was picking on it.

“He has the frustrations that happen immediately after the race,” Whitmarsh continued. “We had three penalties this weekend, we have got to accept it and move on. There was a discussion. We noted that it had happened and we gave an opinion. The stewards had a different opinion.

“I think we have got to accept that the stewards have got a quieter time than us, and they got more information, and they have got to make the decision that they think is right. We didn’t see it like that, but we didn’t have the information that they had.”


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