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Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 14:43 UK

McLaren make apology for 'lying'

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton described the affair as "the worst thing I've experienced in my life"

McLaren have written to Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, to apologise for misleading race stewards after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

McLaren were found guilty of misleading race stewards, with their driver Lewis Hamilton disqualified from the race.

The team are charged with five counts of bringing the sport into disrepute and face an FIA hearing on 29 April.

Penalties could include expulsion from the 2009 championship, suspension, a fine or points deduction.

"We are co-operating with the FIA. I have written to (FIA president) Max Mosley but before 29 April I can't say anything about it," said McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh ahead of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

"It's a letter to them. Certainly, there's been no leak about it from us and I can't comment on it."

Whitmarsh's letter offers Mosley, the FIA and race officials "an unreserved apology" for lying to stewards in Melbourne.


Hamilton finished fourth behind Trulli's Toyota, whom McLaren accused of breaking F1 rules by overtaking while the field was under the control of the safety car.

Officials initially handed Trulli a 25-second penalty, promoting Hamilton to third after the world champion and McLaren's long-serving sporting director Dave Ryan gave evidence that the Englishman had not deliberately let the Toyota driver through, and had not been asked by the team to do so.

But McLaren's radio communication contradicted this and Hamilton was later disqualified with Trulli reinstated to third place.

Hamilton, who issued an emotional public apology after the incident, is expected to escape further censure but Ryan, who was with him at the hearings and has worked for McLaren for 35 years, has been sacked.

Alan Donnelly of the FIA and McLaren team principle Martin Whitmarsh
Whitmarsh (right) talks to Alan Donnelly of the FIA in Bahrain

Whitmarsh's predecessor as team principal, Ron Dennis, has stood down as McLaren chairman and severed his formal ties with the Formula 1 side of the business.

By accepting that they breached the sporting regulations, McLaren have effectively thrown themselves at the mercy of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC), who will preside over their fate.

The FIA said McLaren knew they were lying when they told race officials they had not given Hamilton instructions to let Trulli overtake.

It is also claimed by the FIA that McLaren made no attempt to rectify their evidence under scrutiny.

The WMSC is the body which disqualified McLaren from the constructors' championship and fined them $100m (£67m) for their role in a spy scandal involving Ferrari in 2007.

The last team to be suspended from the championship was BAR, predecessors to Honda and current leaders Brawn GP, in 2005 for having a hidden extra fuel tank.

BAR missed the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix, which happen to be the next two races on the calendar after Bahrain this year.

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see also
Season has been tough - Hamilton
24 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton not upset by Dennis exit
17 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
McLaren's Dennis quits Formula 1
16 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton faces long wait for wins
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
McLaren face FIA 'lying' inquiry
07 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
McLaren dismiss long-serving Ryan
07 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
What next for Hamilton?
07 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
I am not a liar, insists Hamilton
03 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton loses Aussie GP points
02 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Dennis to quit as McLaren F1 boss
16 Jan 09 |  Formula 1
McLaren admission ends F1 spy row
18 Dec 07 |  Formula 1
McLaren hit by constructors' ban
13 Sep 07 |  Formula 1

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