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McLaren given suspended race ban

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh attended the hearing in Paris on Wednesday

McLaren have been given a suspended three-race ban for misleading stewards at the Australian Grand Prix by motor sport's governing body, the FIA.

The British team admitted five charges of breaching Formula 1 rules at a special inquiry on Wednesday in Paris.

The penalty will only be enforced upon Lewis Hamilton's team if "further facts emerge" about this incident or if there is a "further breach" of the rules.

McLaren described the World Motor Sport Council hearing as "very fair".

The FIA said the approach of McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh in dealing with the incident once the full details had emerged, helped in earning them a suspension to the penalty they have received.

McLaren got off lightly - Ecclestone

"Having 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," read a World Motor Sport Council statement.

"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 151 c of the International Sporting Code."

Speaking after the hearing, FIA president Max Mosley said the WMSC's decision was "entirely fair."

He added: "McLaren have demonstrated there is a complete culture change, that it's all different to what it was.

"In those circumstances it looks better to put the whole thing behind us, so unless there is something similar in the future, that is the end of the matter."

F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone told BBC Sport that he felt McLaren may have escaped a harsher punishment.

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"It was good. Fair and honest and straightforward verdict. I thought Martin was happy with that. They knew they did something wrong so they got a slap."

When asked if they got off lightly, he added: "Probably, yes."

The incident occurred towards the end of the season-opening race in Melbourne where world champion Hamilton finished fourth behind Jarno Trulli's Toyota.

Following the race, McLaren accused the Italian 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 he 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.

Honesty shaped McLaren decision - Mosley

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 in which he insisted was not a 'liar', has escaped punishment from the FIA and is free to drive at the next race in Spain on 10 May.

After full details were revealed, Whitmarsh made the decision to sack Ryan after 35 years with the team.

Former McLaren principal Ron Dennis, Whitmarsh's predecessor, also moved away from having any direct involvement with F1 - although he insisted this was not in any way related to the incident.

Whitmarsh also wrote to Mosley to offer an "unreserved apology" and accept the team were in breach of the regulations.

After appearing at the hearing in Paris, Whitmarsh said: "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."

In a team statement, McLaren thanked the FIA World Motor Sport Council members".

"We now look forward with enthusiasm to continuing our efforts to develop a closer and more co-operative relationship between ourselves and the FIA," it read.

"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."

Hamilton's car has been largely uncompetitive car this season and he has only nine points from the first four races, trailing championship leader Jenson Button by 22.

Lewis Hamilton lets Jarno Trulli overtake him in Australia

Hamilton's worst week in video



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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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