Whitmarsh apologises for F1 rule violations

April 24th, 2009 - 10:23 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 23 (DPA) McLaren-Mercedes team boss Martin Whitmarsh has admitted to rule violations and issued an apology for incidents at the Australian Grand Prix ahead of a hearing next week, British daily The Times reported Friday.
McLaren face harsh sanctions over the affair in which then sports director Dave Ryan and world champion Lewis Hamilton misled race stewards over an overtaking manoeuvre when the safety car was out at the Melbourne race March 29.

The hearing at the ruling body FIA in Paris is set for Wednesday. McLaren could face another big fine, expulsion for several races or even for the season if worse comes to worst.

Whitmarsh would only confirm to German Press Agency dpa on Friday at the Bahrain Grand Prix that “we are in contact with FIA.

“Please understand that we as a team will not comment on content and details before the hearing on April 29,” he told DPA.

The Times, meanwhile, said it “understands that Martin Whitmarsh… has written to Max Mosley, the president of the FIA, informing him that his team accept that they are in breach of Article 151c of the Formula One sporting regulations, which covers bringing the sport into disrepute.

“The letter also contains a full apology from Whitmarsh for this latest serious transgression by the Woking-based team.”

Hamilton passed Toyota driver Jarno Trulli when the Italian slid off the track when the safety car was out. Trulli then overtook Hamilton again to restore the order. Overtaking on the track is not allowed when the safety car is out.

Ryan and Hamilton told race stewards twice that they did not talk about Hamilton allowing Trulli back ahead and Trulli was docked 25 seconds by the stewards to lose third place in the race to Hamilton.

But team radio evidence revealed that Ryan and Hamilton had discussed the matter.

Trulli was reinstated as third-place finisher and Hamilton disqualified. McLaren sacked Ryan while Hamilton apologised.

In addition, former team principle Ron Dennis, long at odds with FIA boss Max Mosley, quit as McLaren Racing chief to end his involvement in F1.

Dennis cited a major restructuring at McLaren, but there was widespread speculation that Dennis had pulled strings in the background in the affair which has been dubbed “lie-gate.”

The move could appease FIA which fined McLaren $100 millions two years ago and disqualified them from the constructors’ standings over a spying affair.

The Times said that Whitmarsh’s letter “throw(s) McLaren at the mercy of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC)” and “is clearly an attempt by McLaren to limit the scale of punishment the team are likely to face.”

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