Mercedes-Benz Motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug has insisted that the German manufacturers are still fully supportive of McLaren’s Formula One efforts despite the fallout from Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix.
Having been excluded from the constructors’ championship in 2007 due to the ’spygate’ affair, the British outfit found themselves in even more controversy last week when Hamilton and McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan failed to tell the entire truth during a stewards’ hearing after the Melbourne race.
Hamilton was elevated from fourth to third after Jarno Trulli was handed a 25-second penalty for passing the world champion during a safety car period but the case was re-opened by the FIA after evidence was produced of a radio transmission between Hamilton and the pit wall which revealed that he had been told to allow Trulli to pass.
The stewards determined that by not admitting that evidence at the hearing, Hamilton and McLaren had “acted in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of the event by providing evidence deliberately misleading to the stewards.”
McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan was subsequently suspended by the team while a shame-faced Hamilton appeared before the media the following day to publicly apologise for ’wasting the stewards’ time’.
Haug said that Mercedes-Benz, a 40% shareholder in the team, are concerned with the situation but still fully backing the efforts of the team and principal Martin Whitmarsh.