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McLaren "minutes away" from ban

NEWS STORY
15/09/2007

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that McLaren was just minutes away from an outright ban from the sport on Thursday, a ban which would have prevented the team and its drivers from racing for the remainder of 2007 and the whole of 2008.

"It came very close to McLaren being thrown out, it really was a genuine possibility," the Englishman told the BBC. "A few of us sort of battled on and campaigned for the fine instead."

Ecclestone, who wanted a draconian punishment for the British team earlier this year, when it was accused of "fixing" the result at Monaco, warned that punishments similar to that exacted on the Woking team for the 'spy saga' will be handed out to any team caught cheating in future.

"Formula One is now more open than it has ever been because the threat is definitely there now if any team is helping anyone else," he said. "Even if it is a smaller team than McLaren, they're gone, without any hesitation.

"The alternative to the fine was worse," he continued, "being excluded from the championship for two years. It was much closer than everybody says it was. It really would have been bad news. McLaren would have lost more than they have been fined, if they'd have been able to keep going."

Then again, it was Bernie who, at the outset of this sorry saga, predicted that the drivers, and Lewis Hamilton in particular, would not be affected and would not lose points, even though such a decision is (supposedly) out of his hands.

How right he was.

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