The FIA, McLaren and Ron Dennis

For a change, the FIA handed out a sensible punishment. I think for what McLaren did, to be banned from any races would have been too much. At the same time, a three race suspended ban reflects the fact that McLaren really should not get caught doing this sort of thing again. I called for the FIA to deal with the situation in a fair manner, and I think they have done so. For once, the FIA made a sensible decision!

Where it starts to stink, though, is in the FIA’s justification for why the punishment was not too lenient. James Allen, among many others, noted how the departure of Ron Dennis appears to have paved the way for this relatively light sentence.

FIA president Max Mosley saw no need to labour the point on this matter and said he was satisfied that a real and lasting change had been made at McLaren with the departure of Dennis and the appointment of a new chairman, a captain of industry, Richard Lapthorne.

Mosley said, “In the end there were decisions taken by the people who are no longer involved. That being the case, it would have been unfair to go on with the matter.

“We think it’s entirely fair. They’ve demonstrated there’s a complete culture change and under those circumstances it’s better to put the whole thing behind us.

“Unless they do something similar, that’s the end of the matter.”

Mosley suggested that the decision to lie to the stewards in Melbourne and to continue the deceit in Malaysia was down to sporting director Dave Ryan and implied that the FIA felt Dennis had been involved. Although Whitmarsh told journalists in Malaysia that no-one more senior than Ryan had been involved in the matter and Dennis strenously denied that his decision to move away from the race team had anything to do with the case, the implication in Mosley’s words is that he feels he was involved.

This kind of sums up the relationship the FIA appears to have with McLaren and Ron Dennis. Even though there is no real evidence that Ron Dennis was remotely involved in the decision of Dave Ryan and Lewis Hamilton to lie to the stewards, Mosley had a hunch, and that’s enough apparently. But with Ron Dennis gone, there’s no need to “labour the point” any more, so there is no ONE HUNDRED MEELION DOLLARS fine this time round.

If you ask me, there is far more of a sense that Martin Whitmarsh knew more about this issue than he let on. And how Ron Dennis could have been so heavily involved is beyond me. He wasn’t even present at Sepang, so how on earth could he have manipulated the situation as it unfolded there?

As for a culture change, don’t get me started. It’s bad enough that the FIA have managed to delude themselves that they can somehow tell how much money all the teams will be spending from next year onwards. But now they are also apparently auditors of culture too! Do they have spies within McLaren keeping track of the culture all the time? And how the hell does a culture change so “completely” within one month anyway?

As if you needed further proof that the FIA were basically on a Ron Dennis witch-hunt for the past several years, Max Mosley added these choice words:

Martin Whitmarsh made a very good impression. He’s straightforward and wants to work with us. We’re all trying to do the same thing, which is make the championship successful. Martin fully understands that and we reacted accordingly.

In other words, Martin Whitmarsh is more likely to accede to the FIA’s bully-boy tactics, while Ron Dennis was more willing to stand up to the FIA. And I have to say that Ron Dennis seemed much more closely aligned to the fans than Max Mosley ever does. A bit of the sport died when Ron Dennis left. But the FIA are now rubbing their hands with glee.

I only hope that Fota turns out to have the will power to stand up to the FIA for the good of the sport. In the meantime, the FIA will do everything in their power to break the partnership down. They scored a major victory by finally getting rid of Ron Dennis.

This is no way to run a sport. When is Max Mosley going to be put up before the WMSC for bringing the sport into disrepute? Because he has brought it into disrepute a thousand times more than Ron Dennis ever did.


  1. Good to see you again, Duncan.

    I don’t see any single point “sensible” in this case with the FIA. To tell someone: “hey, what you’ve done deserves a three races ban, but if you don’t do it again in one year (yeah, if you cheat again in one year and one day, it’s ok too), it’s fine, we really believe you are good guys” is far from what a would call sensibility. If McLaren deserved a three races ban, then you must have the guts to punish them. If not, alright, good for McLaren. But finding a grey area between both situations seems a little bit ridiculous to me. In fact, I actually think that is better for the championship not to ban McLaren for any race; but you must play following the rules, your own rules, FIA. The thing with this “sport” called F1 is that, every year, it seems more to me that the rules are completely unpredictable and improvised.

  2. I think also that the covert threats Mercedes made had a little something to do with the ‘sensible’ decision. But you are right, these comments just prove (not that I ever had one iota of doubt) that Ron Dennis was the target all along.

    But anyway, I’d better not continue along that vein, as in light of the Mosley family’s personal situation at the moment it wouldn’t be appropriate to continue.

    But forgive me for bringing this up DrVee, but you do seem to have changed your tune *just a tiny bit * about McLaren & the lie-gate saga !

  3. Pink Peril, I still think McLaren were well in the wrong and were caught with their pants down. I was always adamant that the penalty should be restrained though, and that is what they got so I am happy with the FIA in that respect. It is unusual for the FIA to hand out a sensible punishment to McLaren though, so my anger is still with the FIA for their past form, and how it seems to have magically changed since Ron Dennis’s departure.

  4. I could not agree with you more Duncan, very nicely put. I think it is utterly disgraceful that Ron was put in this situation -either leave or basically have his company detroyed by Mosely. I just can;t quite believe that mosely has managed to get away with it.

    Part of me is hoping that Ron’s retirement is actually leaving him free to take Max’s position at the FIA. That would be an amazing turn of events. But the fact that Max has actually succeeded in getting Ron out of Mclaren actually makes me feel sick to my stomach.