McLaren Faces Probe, Subsequent Penalties
Topics: Monaco Grand Prix, McLaren
May 29, 2007
The Monaco Grand Prix is considered as the most prestigious race in Formula One. Not only is the race the most prestigious, it is also one of the most challenging due to its narrow tracks. And this year’s Monaco Grand Prix is so far the most controversial this season.
The controversy came after it was reported that Team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes ordered Lewis Hamilton to let Fernando Alonso win the race which he eventually did. According to the governing body of the race, “the FIA has launched an investigation into incidents involving the McLaren-Mercedes team at the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix in light of a possible breach of the international sporting code.”
The said controversy has happened before in 2002 when Rubens Barichello, then driving for Ferrari, clearly let his teammate Michael Schumacher overtake him at the Austrian Grand Prix. The said move resulted to the FIA imposing a fine on both Barichello and Schumacher. After that season, the FIA banned team orders or the practice of letting a particular driver to let his teammate win in order to secure the driver’s standing in the driver’s championship. Since the practice was banned in 2002, the rule has never been breached until now, or so as the FIA alleged.
In the defense of the team’s strategy team boss Ron Dennis has this to say: “Team strategy is what you bring to bear to win a grand prix; team orders are what you bring to bear to manipulate a grand prix. We do not, and have not, manipulated grands prix unless there are some exceptional circumstances. For example in Australia (1998), someone tapped into our radio and instructed Mika Hakkinen to enter the pits. He entered the pits, but I reversed that because that was unfair. That was an outside influence influencing the outcome of the race. That is one of the very rare occasions there's been a team order. I don't feel uncomfortable with them, but I sleep easy. I have a clear conscience; both with regard to that particular race and this race here (Monaco).”
Lewis Hamilton is clearly disappointed with the fact that he was not given the green light to go for the lead. “At the end of the day I’m a rookie,” said Hamilton. “I am in my first season and I have finished second in my first Monaco Grand Prix, so I can’t really complain. But to see that I am of similar pace to Fernando is a positive for me. But it is something I have to live with.” He summed up his feelings toward the team’s strategy saying “I’ve got No. 2 on my car. I am the No. 2 driver”.
Hamilton is currently tied with Fernando Alonso for the first place in the driver’s championship race. Before the Monaco Grand Prix, it seems that only EBC Redstuff brake pads can stop Hamilton from winning the Monaco Grand Prix but it seems like his team had other things in mind.