Monday 23rd June 2008
Martin Whitmarsh has rubbished suggestions that a FIA conspiracy against McLaren is the reason the team has incurred three penalties in two events.
The spate of punishments for McLaren began in Canada when Lewis Hamilton was penalised for crashing into the back of Kimi Raikkonen in the pit lane after failing to stop for the red light. As a result the Brit was awarded a deserved ten-grid slot penalty for the following race in France.
In qualifying for that French race Hamilton's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen join him on the punishment list as the Finn was handed a five-place penalty for blocking Mark Webber during qualifying. But given that Kovalainen couldn't really get out the way at the time, that fine seemed a bit harsh.
As did McLaren's latest penalty, which was a drive-through given to Hamilton for gaining an advantage over Sebastian Vettel by cutting the chicane in the opening stages of the French GP.
"In our opinion, Lewis was already past him (when he went off). He didn't gain any road position," a rather aggrieved Ron Dennis told ITV in the wake of the race, which Hamilton finished outside the points.
This led to some suggestions in the paddock that McLaren feel that the FIA are picking on them. However, CEO Whitmarsh has denied this.
"I'm sure Ron didn't indicate that really," Whitmarsh said when asked if Dennis was hinting at a conspiracy against McLaren.
"He has the frustrations that happen immediately after the race. We had three penalties this weekend, we have got to accept it and move on."
However, that doesn't mean that Whitmarsh reckons the penalty was the right call. "I think we have got to accept that the stewards have got a quieter time than us, and they got more information, and they have got to make the decision that they think is right.
"We didn't see it like that, but we didn't have the information that they had.
"There was a discussion. We noted that it had happened and we gave an opinion. The stewards had a different opinion."
As for Hamilton himself, he refused to comment on whether or not McLaren were being victimised. "I'm not going to answer that," he said.