autosport.com - F1 News: McLaren team orders under investigation
McLaren team orders under investigation
By Jonathan Noble Monday, May 28th 2007, 11:53 GMT
McLaren are to face an investigation by motor racing's governing body over the team orders they imposed on their drivers at the Monaco Grand Prix.
World champion Fernando Alonso and teammate Lewis Hamilton were ordered to hold position after the first round of pitstops in Monte Carlo - in a move aimed at reducing risks to secure a McLaren 1-2.
That move drew widespread criticisms in some quarters, especially from an angry British media, as it prevented Hamilton from fighting for the maiden win that he was so desperate to score.
And now the FIA has stepped into the situation by announcing that it is to investigate what happened, amid questions about whether the team orders have damaged the reputation of the sport.
A statement issued on Monday said: "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 relevant evidence is under review and a further announcement will be made in due course."
Autosport.com understands that the team will be investigated into whether they have broken Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, which makes it clear that damage to the sport can be caused by: "any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally."
Team orders that influence the outcome of a race have been illegal in Formula One since Ferrari told Rubens Barrichello to let Michael Schumacher through for the lead at the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis was adamant on Sunday night, however, that he had done nothing wrong in protecting his team's advantage.
"Team strategy is what you bring to bear to win a Grand Prix. Team orders is what you bring to bear to manipulate a Grand Prix," he told reporters afterwards.
"And we do not and have not manipulated Grands Prix, unless there were some exceptional circumstances, which occurred, for example, in Australia , when at that time someone had tapped into our radio and instructed Mika Hakkinen to enter the pits.
"He entered the pits and I reversed that, because that was unfair, that was an outside influence on the outcome of the race. That is one of the very rare occasions that there's been a team order.
"I don't feel uncomfortable with them. I sleep easy. I have a clear conscience, both on that particular race - and this race today."