Champions play down McLaren axe rumours

Wed, 12 September 2007, 03:04

Two former title winners have played down speculation that McLaren could on Thursday be kicked out of the world championship.

1982 champion Keke Rosberg told the German newspaper Bild that, irrespective of the evidence to be presented by the World Council, disqualification would be a “disproportionate” punishment.

But he added: “If espionage is proven, I cannot see that just the drivers can escape the penalty.”

It is rumoured that McLaren might be excluded from the constructors’ standings, but that drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton will be free to keep fighting for the title.

Rosberg said: “Of course I do not want to see it happen, but I do not know how you can separate the driver and the team like that. Drivers, cars – everything; it is all the same team.”

Triple world champion Niki Lauda, meanwhile, doubts that McLaren will suffer any sanction at all, based on speculation that central to the new evidence are the reported emails between Pedro de la Rosa and Alonso.

“If that is the only proof, there will be no punishment,” the Austrian confidently predicted.

Lauda added: “The fact that drivers talk about other teams is completely normal. I remember when I was driving, talking about the tyre pressures of the other teams.”

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