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McLaren Under Investigation

McLaren Under Investigation

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton - 2007 Monaco Grand PrixAs Kris pointed out in the comments in the previous post, McLaren are currently under investigation by Formula One’s governing body – the FIA – for using team orders to decide the outcome of the Monaco Grand Prix. After claiming pole position on Saturday, Fernando Alonso went on to win the race with team mate Lewis Hamilton finishing a fine second after an intense battle of fastest lap sharing. From viewing the race, it was clear that both drivers had the pace to win, but the pair rarely came close to each other to attempt a pass on the tight and twisty track.

So, the big controversy? McLaren boss Ron Dennis admitted to the press after the race that he had told his drivers to lap the circuit conservatively once it was known that the pair were dominating their rivals. Once it was clear that Felipe Massa could do little to take the win from the Woking squad, both Alonso and Hamilton cooled down their inter-team battle. It is this that has caused upset in the British media. But why? Is it because they possibly feel this prevented golden-boy Lewis from winning?

Honestly, what a load of tosh!

Let’s take a look at what Dennis actually did, as team principal of McLaren Mercedes.

Both his drivers are commanding the race. While they didn’t exactly pull away from third placed driver Massa, there was a reasonable margin over the Ferrari driver. And with Monaco being notoriously difficult to pass on, the chances of Felipe snatching the victory were pretty slim. So Ron radios his drivers and tells them to calm down, the race is in hand.

Now, team orders have been banned since 2002 when Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello caused a somewhat embarrassing incident in Austria. By the time Rubens came to crossing the finishing line, neither driver knew who was supposed to win and they both backed off, much like what happens when two gentlemen meet each other head on in the street:

“No, after you.”

“No, please, after you.”

“Please, I insist, you go first.”

“Please, I insist, after you…”

So fair enough, team orders are banned. But I really don’t see how the Monaco Grand Prix was fixed in that manner. Team bosses tell their drivers to back off all the time. Why push the car unnecessarily? But of course, when it comes to Lewis and this maiden victory, it appears to be a different story.

The full facts of what is happening are currently unknown, other than that the FIA have issued a statement to the press explaining that the team is under investigation and that they are reviewing the evidence they have.

I am all for every single car racing each other, but I also understand the need to drive sensibly and the teams desire to maintain a strong finish.

I have just one question to ask the British media. Had Lewis passed Fernando into turn one yesterday, and gone on to take the win with Numero Uno finishing in second, would the FIA have still launched an investigation? Would the British media still be outraged at the lack of racing?

Feel free to comment away below, but I just ask for language to be kept clean. Thank you.

Edit: Don’t forget to vote. The poll is on the home page on the right.

Formula One, F1, McLaren, Monaco Grand Prix, Team Orders, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton

Oliver White

5 comments

  • To answer my own question: Of course the investigation would not have happened, the FIA are playing to the whims of the British tabloid column-fillers. Crikey, next we’ll be seeing ITV getting awards for their broadcast of Button’s win in Hungary, when they did nothing different to all the other Grand Prix broadcasts. Oh, wait, er…

  • seems like it’s all hamilton’s fault to me. he has next to no experience in press conferences and each week he says more and more dangerous things.

    this weeks ‘i had more laps, but they wouldn’t let me race’, is but one of many gaffs.

    as for the british media…ahh, forget it. what’s the point? they’re all waste of space. Kevin Garside is the worst. but i hate them all equally.

  • I am a third party to this, but wasnt the pushback obvious.

    I mean one lap they are racing tail to head ,and the next lap they slow down by over 2 seconds and no longer challenge each other.

    I agree that this must happen all the time, but the fact is that only 2 cars were in contention for the top two places at Monaco, and to see them not race with each other was a letdown.

  • The one thing that keeps bothering me about all this was the start. Lewis didn’t even attempt to creep up on Alonso, but instead he immediately darted right to cover him.

    It was almost as though they were told to cover the start and not throw the race away into turn one. (Fair enough, I s’pose) Then do a few laps so the team can decide who is faster, and then that person will be allowed to go on and win. A bit like Australia 1998 when Hakkinen and Coulthard had their agreement: ‘The one to the first corner first gets the win’.

    I have no issue with drivers backing down after the final round of stops. It would have been exciting if Massa could have challenged more and forced the McLaren’s into pushing constantly to the chequered flag, but the Ferrari just wasn’t up to it. But I do have a problem with deciding the outcome of race based on the given lap times set in the first or second stint.

    I just can’t get that start out of my head, especially after we saw Hamilton nab a few places into turn one in previous races, including Fernando on occasion.

    @sidepodcast: Yeah, the British media is pretty immature. It’s a great shame really, but it’s probably the same the world over. I also see a little immaturity in Hamilton. But I don’t see petulance yet, just an ego that is growing way too quickly.

    @Ankit: It would have been great if Raikkonen had qualified better, I think the McLaren’s may have been pressured more had that happened and they probably wouldn’t have backed off so much.

  • 100% with you on this… I hadn’t stopped to think that this was probably a result of the hamilton hype machine throwing a tantrum.

    Im beginning to have a problem with Hamilton, and ironically its got very little to do with the guy himself, he seems pleasant when interviewed, races well and has generally behaved himself. Unfortunately, the constant stream of hype, not to mention the atrocious way in which ITV coverage has lost all sense of balance (I, for one, am sick of Brundle & co demanding that whichever driver is on screen is ousted so that they can bask in some more hamilton glory) has left me all but wanting him to throw it in the barriers to simply shut people up!

    Now, we’re seeing the scales tipped so far as to have the FIA investigate maclaren simply because they issued standard “hold station” orders and/or had the audacity to choose pit strategies that meant Alonso: the driver who qualified fastest, put in the fastest race lap, made no glaring mistakes and in general did everything necessary to earn the win, actually did so.

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