Tropic Thunder: Mclaren Face Stiff Year

James RossiCorrespondent IApril 6, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - APRIL 05:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes leads Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull Racing as they drive in heavy rain during the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit on April 5, 2009 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Formula One is never far away from controversy in recent years, and so it proved as we headed to Malaysia for the second round of the World Championship.

World Champion Lewis Hamilton and his Mclaren team found themselves in hot water as they arrived at the circuit on Thursday, being asked to spill the beans on the previous weekends going's on in the light of new evidence being provided by way of radio transmissions between the young Brit and his team.

Let's cut to the chase. It boils down to the fact that Mclaren instructed Hamilton to let the Toyota of Jarno Trulli past him after overtaking him whilst the Italian veteran took a detour on the penultimate corner whilst behind the safety car. Hamilton duly did as he was told and allowed Trulli to regain 3rd position.

However, the point being made by the FIA is that whilst speaking with the race stewards, Hamilton and (now ex) Sporting Director Dave Ryan were asked fairly simply if the team had instructed their driver to pull over and concede 3rd place.

They both denied that any instruction was given.

The question that needs to be asked is why Ryan and Hamilton felt the need to blatantly lie whilst under stewards questioning. Quite clearly, Hamilton was not obliged to give 3rd position back to Trulli and so had Mclaren read the rulebook they would not have warned Hamilton to slow down again.

It could be construed that Ryan felt guilty at losing his driver a potential podium place, which would have been a complete surprise given the apparent shortfall in the car's performance.

Let's for a moment however, imagine that Mclaren had designed a car that was on the pace of the Brawns. Do you think that one single position would be worth lying about if your car was significantly faster than anyone else? In the first race? Given this episode, the threat of further FIA punishment looming, and a severely under-performing car - Mclaren face one of their toughest years in recent history.

Quick thinking? Perhaps. Intelligent execution? Not in a million years.