McLaren have been given a suspended three-race ban for misleading stewards at the Australian Grand Prix, as team principal Martin Whitmarsh’s strategy for handling the crisis was shown to have paid off admirably.
The FIA has responded to the British team’s admission of five charges of breaking the sport’s rules and bringing it into disrepute by handing out the ban to be activated if it misbehaves again.
But it can also be triggered if any further information about the incident emerges.
Speaking after the decision was announced, Whitmarsh said the team was aware it had made “serious mistakes.”
Most significally, the team has also said that it looks forward “with enthusiasm to continuing our efforts to develop a closer and more co-operative relationship between ourselves and the FIA” – hopefully thus ending the fraught relationship that has brought things to this pass in the first place.
This is a common-sense result that punishes the team without taking extreme measures that will damage the sport and its commercial appeal to sponsors.
But it also gives the regulator a powerful tool for keeping McLaren in line in the future.
The FIA said in its official statement on the decision: â€œHaving regard to the open and honest way in which McLaren Team Principal, Mr Martin Whitmarsh, addressed the WMSC and the change in culture which he made clear has taken place in his organisation, the WMSC decided to suspend the application of the penalty it deems appropriate.
“That penalty is a suspension of the team from three races of the FIA Formula One World Championship. This will only be applied if further facts emerge regarding the case or if, in the next 12 months, there is a further breach by the team of article 151c of the International Sporting Code.”
The body is due to publish its decision in full here: http://www.fia.com/
McLaren said in a statement issued by the team shortly after the decision was announced: “McLaren accepts the FIA World Motor Sport Council’s decision and wishes to thank the FIA World Motor Sport Council members for the very fair hearing they have given us this morning.
“We now look forward with enthusiasm to continuing our efforts to develop a closer and more co-operative relationship between ourselves and the FIA.
“We will also continue to focus our efforts on closing the performance gap that exists between our car and the fastest cars.
“Following Lewis Hamilton’s encouraging fourth place in Bahrain last Sunday, we are now optimistic that we will be able to play an increasingly competitive part in what is fast developing into a very exciting season of Formula 1 motor racing.”
It also included the following quotes from Martin Whitmarsh: “I would like to thank the FIA World Motor Sport Council members for affording me the opportunity to answer their questions this morning.
“We are aware that we made serious mistakes in Australia and Malaysia, and I was therefore very glad to be able to apologise for those mistakes once again.
“I was also pleased to be able to assure the FIA World Motor Sport Council members that we had taken appropriate action with a view to ensuring that such mistakes do not occur again.”