McLaren Mercedes Formula One team principal Martin Whitmarsh told a news conference in Malaysia that team sporting director Dave Ryan was suspended in the wake of Lewis Hamilton's disqualification in Australia because Ryan was "the senior member...
McLaren Mercedes Formula One team principal Martin Whitmarsh told a news conference in Malaysia that team sporting director Dave Ryan was suspended in the wake of Lewis Hamilton's disqualification in Australia because Ryan was "the senior member of the team."
Ryan on Thursday accompanied Hamilton to a stewards' review of the Australian race's final three laps. The outcome had the sport's sanctioning body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), concluding both McLaren employees misrepresented or concealed facts, that is, they lied.
Whitmarsh said Ryan "had not been full and truthful" and that Hamilton "was not entirely truthful" when the two spoke to stewards at the Sepang International Circuit. Whitmarsh said McLaren had no alternative but to suspend Ryan. Ryan joined McLaren in 1974 and held posts including chief mechanic and factory manager before becoming sporting director.
Race officials punished Toyota's Jarno Trulli, dropping him from third to 12th, for passing Hamilton under a safety car near the end of the race in Melbourne. They had not reviewed radio and video evidence before that ruling. When they learned Hamilton told reporters after the race he had been told to let Trulli pass him after Trulli had gone off course, stewards revisited the incident.
Trulli was third and Hamilton fourth when a safety car came on course after Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel knocked each other out of the race. Trulli slid wide on the next-to-last corner of the Albert Park course and was off course when Hamilton went by. At that moment, Hamilton held third place legitimately. But he was advised to let Trulli retake the place, which set up an illusion that Trulli passed Hamilton illegally.
Hamilton has not clarified why he was unclear when he and Ryan met stewards' Thursday. He wouldn't be drawn on the topic during Thursday's prerace news conference. British tabloids have villified the world champion and an FIA representative has suggested he could face suspension or ejection from the championship. Elimination of the reigning world champion from the championship is highly doubtful and his team, stripped of all points in a spy scandal a year and a half ago, is apologizing like mad.
Whitmarsh told reporters Friday that Ryan "did not set out with a deliberate intention to mislead but during the course of the meeting he was not as clear as he should have been. He made a very serious error of judgment and is paying the consequences for that."
Whitmarsh characterized Ryan and Hamilton's meeting with stewards as a bad decision in "the heat of the moment."
"They were trying to deal with a situation and they got it wrong," Whitmarsh said.