Bernie Ecclestone: “McLaren could face ban” 

Written by David on April 09th, 2009 at 6:44 pmLast Update: April 09th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

“It would be a terrible thing if any team were banned from races. But it could happen.” FOM Chief Bernie Ecclestone thinks that the McLaren Mercedes team could face the most severe sanction. On 29th April, before an Extraordinary meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council, the Woking based team will have to answer charges over the the way the team misled the stewards at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, breaching Article 151c of the International Sporting Code: fraudulent conduct.

After the race in Melbourne, former McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan and McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton misled the FIA stewards causing a 25-second penalty to Toyota driver Jarno Trulli for overtaking the Briton under the Safety Car. Hamilton was then promoted to third place. But after the discovery of new elements – the radio transmission between Hamilton and Ryan at the time of the incident with Trulli – the FIA stewards ruled that McLaren was in breach of Article 151c. Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from the 2009 Australian Grand Prix and now the team could face a severe sanction.

“We need to investigate closer what went on,” Ecclestone told to British newspaper Daily Express. “It is about stealing a point and a place but those are worth money so basically it is fraud, although I am sure it started off more innocently without thought of the consequences,” he added.

A fraudulent conduct could be sentenced in different ways: from an official reprimand to a suspension from the races, or even a fine or a point penalty. “There are many options open if the charge sticks and it would be a terrible thing if any team were banned from races. But it could happen,” said Ecclestone referring to the worst-case scenario for the Woking team.

A difficult situation for McLaren as back in 2007 lost all points in that season for the Constructors’ Championship and was fined $100m for spying on its rival, Scuderia Ferrari. “It is not so long ago that McLaren were in front of the Council and it is never good for anyone if you are back in court quickly for something similar,” concluded Ecclestone.

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