McLaren penalty: the fallout begins

Fri, 14 September 2007, 01:06

The fallout has begun after the FIA on Thursday penalised McLaren for its involvement in the espionage scandal.

The Independent called the $100m fine “Draconian, and clearly designed to grab world headlines”. Many English-language websites, including the FIA’s, crashed as unprecedented millions of cyberspace readers grappled with the news.

The FIA said it would explain the reasons for the penalty on Friday. The governing body is also expected to announce that the money – to actually be less than $50m once FOM income is factored-out – will be used for its various campaigns, including the FIA Foundation and Institute.

Mercedes-Benz may also contribute to the fine.

“To the outside world this is a ridiculous amount of money,” former team owner Eddie Jordan told BBC Radio.

Ron Dennis, though, said even the gravity of the verdict, including his team’s exclusion from the constructors’ championship, would not lead him to the F1 exit.

“I have absolutely no intention of retiring,” he said late on Thursday.

The team boss also said in a statement that McLaren does “not accept” the penalty, because the evidence presented at the World Motor Sport Council showed that the team “did not use” any of the leaked Ferrari information.

McLaren has the right to appeal, but no decision has been made yet. “We believe we’ve got the ground for an appeal,” Dennis’ deputy Martin Whitmarsh said.

It is also rumoured that the FIA sanction might nullify the drivers’ contracts, with Fernando Alonso obviously unhappy in 2007. McLaren might also be keen to offset the huge fine by employing a cheaper driver in 2008 and beyond.

Explaining his Paris absence to the Spanish press on Thursday, Alonso said he was instead in Belgium “because I have to be”.

Dennis, however, insisted that there had so far been “no discussion” about varying McLaren’s deals with either the Spaniard or Lewis Hamilton.

A more pertinent discussion on Dennis’ mind might be with sponsor Vodafone, who are probably unhappy that some of their sponsor millions will be spent on a fine for cheating.

A spokeswoman for the company told The Times: “We need to speak to the team and get a full report on what the way forward will be.”

You may also like