With the Formula 1 season coming to an end I decided to write about the scandal that destroyed McLaren’s bid to win this year’s Constructor’s Championship.
With Lewis Hamilton failing to finish the Chinese Grand Prix today, and Kimi Raikonnen of Ferrari winning, there is now every chance that their season could end without the Driver’s Championship too.
So what was the scandal all about?
The International Automobile Federation, the governing body of Formula 1, fined McLaren a record $100 million after chief designer Mike Coughlan was discovered to be in possession of a 780 page document containing detailed technical data on Ferrari’s 2007 car.
In addition to the record breaking fine, McLaren were also stripped of all their constructor’s points, a move that effectively gave that championship to Ferrari and cost the British based team around $70 million.
The hearing in Paris stopped short of deducting points from the McLaren drivers, rookie Lewis Hamilton and defending world champion Fernando Alonso.
Cynics suggest that this was because Lewis Hamilton is both the first black driver in Formula One and also the first ever rookie likely to win the Championship.
This combination is good for the sport in general and those behind F1 would not want to negate the publicity it has attracted to motorsport and all the sponsors involved in it.
The future of McLaren
The double penalty is so harsh that most constructors would not be able to survive it. McLaren, being well backed and well established are likely to do so but one can only wonder about the long term effects – will sponsors and partners wish to be associated with them next year?
With McLaren maintaining that Coughlan acted independently in acquiring the data from Ferrari’s senior engineer Nigel Stepney, and that they did not use any of said data to their benefit, they are likely to lodge an appeal.