Mike Stevens | Apr 30, 2009

The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council has handed McLaren a suspended three race ban for bringing the sport into disrepute, after misleading a stewards hearing in Australia and Malaysia.

Motor racing’s governing body decided to impose the lenient sentence after McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh entered a guilty plea on all five breaches of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, apologising for his team’s actions in an open letter to the council.

The ban will only be imposed should further evidence emerge or if McLaren is again found guilty of bringing the sport into disrepute in the next 12 months.

Martin Whitmarsh

A statement issued by the council said:

“Having regard to the open and honest way in which McLaren Team Principal, Mr Martin Whitmarsh, addressed the WMSC, and the change in culture which he made clear has taken place in his organisation, the WMSC decided to suspend the application of the penalty it deems appropriate.”

Whitmarsh was repentant after the council’s hearing, revealing in a statement that he hopes McLaren will now be able to develop a closer working relationship with the FIA.

“I would like to thank the FIA World Motor Sport Council members for affording me the opportunity to answer their questions this morning. We are aware that we made serious mistakes in Australia and Malaysia, and I was therefore very glad to be able to apologise for those mistakes once again,” he said.

Lewis Hamilton was able to avoid the wrath of the FIA after making a sincere apology during an impromptu press conference at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

On instruction from the now-dismissed Dave Ryan, Hamilton misled stewards and was promoted to third place in Australia after telling an investigation he had not been asked to allow Toyota’s Jarno Trulli pass under yellow flags.

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