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Page last updated at 09:51 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 10:51 UK

McLaren await 'lying' punishment

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Whitmarsh hopes to move on after FIA hearing

Motorsport's governing body the FIA is debating the punishment it will give to McLaren for misleading race officials at this year's Australian Grand Prix.

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh emerged from a hearing in Paris on Wednesday saying: "I hope that this will draw a line and we can carry on racing."

McLaren appeared before the FIA's World Motorsport Council on Wednesday charged with bringing the sport into disrepute.

A final verdict is expected to be delivered later on Wednesday.

Potential penalties include expulsion from the championship, suspension, a fine or points deduction.

Emerging from the hearing in Paris on Wednesday before a verdict was announced, Whitmarsh said: "We've made mistakes and apologised to the FIA, the World Motorsport Council and the public."

Whitmarsh has apologised and accepted McLaren's wrongdoing in the affair.

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He faced questioning alone, without legal representation, at the hearing in the FIA headquarters in the Place de la Concorde Paris.

A McLaren lawyer was present, but only in an observational capacity.

That is part of a non-confrontational approach being taken by McLaren in an attempt to lessen their penalty.

The team have admitted their guilt and have made efforts to change the company's structure to prevent a similar incident happening again.

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.

As a result, BAR missed the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix - which happen to be the next two races on the 2009 calendar.

The incident at the heart of the McLaren inquiry happened in the opening race of this season in Melbourne.

The safety car came out after a late collision between Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica in his BMW Sauber.

Overtaking is forbidden while the field is being controlled by the safety car, but Toyota driver Jarno Trulli slid off the track and was passed by Hamilton, before going back past the world champion.

Hamilton was initially promoted to third place after it was ruled that Trulli had illegally overtaken him while the field was being controlled by the safety car.

CHARGES FACED BY McLAREN
Told Australian Grand Prix stewards that no instructions were given to Hamilton to allow Trulli to pass when both cars were behind the safety car, knowing this statement to be untrue
Got Hamilton to support and confirm the untrue statement
Despite knowing a rival team had been unfairly penalised because of their untrue statement, took no action to rectify the situation
At a second meeting, continued to maintain the untrue statement was true
At that meeting continued to procure Hamilton to repeat the false statement

But it emerged that Hamilton had let Trulli past and that he had been told to do so by the team - both of which he and former team sporting director Dave Ryan denied when asked by the stewards.

Hamilton has laid the responsibility for his actions at the door of Ryan, who has been blamed for concocting the plan to mislead the stewards.

McLaren face five charges.

They are charged with telling stewards that no instructions were given to Hamilton, knowing this statement to be untrue, and procuring Hamilton to back up the statement to stewards, and then taking no action, despite knowing a rival team had been penalised as a result of their untrue statement.

Furthermore, at a second hearing following the race, they made no attempt to correct their untrue statement - in fact maintained it was true, despite being allowed to listen to a recording which revealed it was not - and again they got Hamilton to repeat the false statement, while knowing what he was saying was untrue.

Hamilton insisted he did not lie over the incident but was instructed by Ryan, who has since been sacked by the team after 35 years' service, to "withhold information".

Contrite Hamilton will not be punished - Coulthard

"I am not a liar or a dishonest person, I am a team player," said Hamilton afterwards.

"If the team ask me to do something, I generally do it. But I felt awkward and uncomfortable.

"This is not an easy thing to do, to step back and realise I was in the wrong. But I was in the wrong, I was misled."

Hamilton has come back down to earth with a bump this season.

He has taken only nine points from the opening four races, been through the Australia scandal and seen both Ryan and long-time mentor and team chief Ron Dennis leave the McLaren set-up.

Hamilton, 24, told BBC Sport that he was so upset by the Australia incident he had considered quitting, but whatever punishment is handed down to the team, he is unlikely to face further punishment himself.

The FIA have said they "recognised his efforts in trying to put the record straight" after he was "put in an impossible position".



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see also
Hamilton considered quitting F1
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
McLaren make apology for 'lying'
24 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
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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