Hamilton stripped, McLaren deny lying

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh denied that Lewis Hamilton lied about an incident at the Australian Grand Prix after the Briton was stripped of his 3rd place

updated: April 03, 2009 17:05 IST
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Sepang (Malaysia):

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh denied on Thursday that Lewis Hamilton lied about an incident at the Australian Grand Prix after the Briton was stripped of his third place result.

The world champion was fourth in the Melbourne race when Toyota's Jarno Trulli passed him under safety car conditions on lap 57 last Sunday.

The incident earned the Italian a 25-second penalty, which saw him relegated to 12th, with Hamilton promoted onto the podium behind the Brawn 1-2 team of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.

But after a hastily arranged hearing in Malaysia today, the sport's governing body ruled that the Briton and his team deliberately provided misleading information on the circumstances leading to Trulli's penalty.

The decision not only handed Trulli back third place but disqualified Hamilton and McLaren from the race classification.

"The stewards, having considered new elements presented to them, consider that Lewis Hamilton and McLaren Mercedes acted in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of the event," the FIA said.

It added that Hamilton provided "evidence deliberately misleading to the stewards".

The new elements the FIA considered were believed to be radio conversations between Hamilton and his McLaren team which were seen to contradict the original statements presented to the stewards.

Whitmarsh said the team would not appeal but insisted Hamilton did nothing wrong.

"Obviously we are disappointed by what happened," he said. "Lewis didn't do anything abnormal and it was clear Trulli shouldn't have passed him. But we have to accept the decision."

He said there was no question of Hamilton lying. "There is no implication that Lewis lied to the stewards. I don't know what they meant, but I understand there was a belief the team was not explicit enough about the radio conversation," he said.

"What they believe is that the omission of the information about the radio communication between the team was withheld and that is misleading.

"As you can imagine Lewis is very disappointed. It's a harsh decision but experience had told us that you have to accept these decisions."

Trulli has maintained his innocence, claiming he had little choice but to overtake the Briton again after he slowed down.

"It was a controversial end of the race and it was hard for anyone to understand," Trulli said.

"But I'm happy because honesty was rewarded. It is good for the credibility of the sport.

"I would like to thank the FIA because they had the strength to reconsider the case, giving new evidence and understanding what was going on," the Italian told reporters. "I never lied, I was always honest in my statements and I never changed it."

He declined to comment on Hamilton's actions or his exclusion.