F1’s governing body has cleared McLaren of using illegal team orders in the controversial Monaco grand prix.
The FIA conducted an investigation into the team’s conduct, after the British press reacted angrily to boss Ron Dennis’ admission that Fernando Alonso and his British teammate Lewis Hamilton had been asked to ensure a safe one-two finish.
Result-altering team orders were banned in 2002 in reaction to former Ferrari duo Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher’s place-swapping on the Austrian GP finish-line.
But the FIA says it found that McLaren’s actions in Monte Carlo “were entirely legitimate and no further action is necessary.”
The statement also suggested that, when one of a teams’ cars is leading a grand prix, it is legitimate for them to “ensure (that) their other car finishes second”.
The FIA said: “There is no obligation on them to take (the) risk to overtake their own car. Indeed it would be foolish to do so.
“It is standard procedure for a team to tell its drivers to slow down when they have a substantial lead.
“(McLaren) did nothing which could be described as interfering with the race result,” the statement explained.
The Woking based team reacted by calling the FIA’s investigation “efficient, professional and thorough”, and insisted that the outcome demonstrated that the press’ scathing criticism had been “not justified”.
FIA spokesman Richard Woods, meanwhile, denied that the governing body is the only party that risked bringing the sport into disrepute after Monaco by conducting the inquiry and worsening the negative publicity.
He told The Times: “This was the regulator going through the regulatory process as transparently as possible and reaching a conclusion.”