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GP Week : Issue 43
Sorry Max ... McLAREN F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh has written to the FIA to apologise for any wrongdoing on the part of his team, its former Sporting Director Dave Ryan and lead driver Lewis Hamilton in the Australian Grand Prix lying scandal. In a move intended to pacify the FIA and the World Motor Sport Council before its crunch meeting on April 29th Whitmarsh admitted in Bahrain that he had written to FIA President Max Mosley to apologise. “We are cooperating with the FIA, I have written to Max [Mosley] but obviously before the 29th I can’t say anything about it,” Whitmarsh told Reuters at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Whitmarsh’s move comes amidst rumours that one or more of McLaren’s major sponsors could pull out of the team, should it be found guilty of contravening Article 151c of the Whitmarsh apologises ahead of McLaren hearing International Sporting Code and handed a heavy penalty by the WMSC. The last time McLaren faced this charge at the WMSC in 2007 it was fined $100 million and stripped of all constructors’world championship points, but there has been talk in Formula 1 that the penalty this time could be even heavier, with a multiple race ban considered a genuine possibility. Should such a ban be enforced the team would be almost certain to miss the Spanish Grand Prix, home of major sponsor Santander, and the Monaco Grand Prix which is viewed as one of the most important races for commercial visibility of sponsors in the entire season. The docking of points remains a possible, and arguably more sensible option for the WMSC but it is up to the body to determine exactly which punishment best fits the crime.