Mike Stevens | Apr 4, 2009

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has defended his decision to suspend sporting director, Kiwi Dave Ryan, in the wake of the Lewis Hamilton disqualification scandal.

Ryan, a 35-year employee of the Woking-based team, has been sent home after reportedly instructing Hamilton to deceive stewards during a post-race investigation in Melbourne.

Although the decision has pained senior members of the team, Whitmarsh said he was left with little option but to discipline the Kiwi.

“I think Dave was the senior member of the team there and Dave has to take responsibility for leading that process,” he said. “I had to take an incredibly difficult decision. I have personally known Dave for 20 years.”

Well known around the paddock for his dedication and commitment, Ryan is reportedly shattered. But, as Whitmarsh said, Ryan, as part of McLaren management and Sporting Director, had “the responsibility to ensure that the stewards received a full and entirely truthful account of what happened”.

While the scandal has damaged McLaren's reputation, it has been Hamilton who has borne the full force of the media storm, leading many to draw comparisons to the early incidents which marred Michael Schumacher's career.

Hamilton fronted the media late yesterday, apologising for his role in misleading the stewards, but denied he is a liar.

“Try and put yourself in my position and understand that, like I said, I am not a liar. I have not gone through my life being a liar or [being] dishonest. And so for people to say I am dishonest and for the world to think that....what can I say?,” he said.

"I sincerely apologise to the stewards for wasting their time and for making them look silly. I am very, very sorry for the situation: for my team, for Dave because he has been a good member of the team for many years. He is a good guy.”

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