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Shameful

NEWS STORY
14/09/2007

As fans eagerly logged in, desperate for news, a number of websites (including Pitpass) cracked under the pressure, their servers unable to cope with the phenomenal amount of traffic, the growing demand for news, any news.

As the day wore on, so the tension increased, and it was natural that the merest hint of what was happening in Paris was leapt upon.

Shortly after 16.00 (BST) BBC's Radio Five Live reported that according to unofficial reports McLaren had been thrown out of the 2007 and 2008 championships, the madness had begun.

Within minutes, McLaren was on the phone clarifying the situation, confirming that the World Motor Sport Council hearing was still in progress. However, by now the frenzy was already underway.

Almost two hours later came the official news, that McLaren had been fined and would lose its 2007 Constructors' points, though its drivers would be safe. One by one we heard from racing legends, including Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart, expressing their incredulity.

Mark September 13th 2007 in your diary, and write it large, for it was on this day that Formula One finally lost any remaining credibility.

Scores were settled on this day, but at what cost? Ferrari might be satisfied with the result, but the sport must hang its head in shame.

If McLaren is guilty, and as of this time we are not privy to the full evidence, then it is right that the team is punished, and punished hard. A warning must be sent out that cheating will not be tolerated.

However, one must ask two things.

Firstly, why wasn't the Woking team punished at the original hearing, a fact which (rightly) incensed Ferrari, and secondly, why is it that the drivers' points are unaffected?

If McLaren has benefited form having Ferrari's information, then its drivers have benefited also, and therefore they too have to be punished. However, as we are all aware, that would mean risking a massive switch off by the viewing public, as 'man down the pub' comes to realise what some of us have feared for some time, that our sport has been corrupted.

In the same way that Bernie Ecclestone wants the huge sanction fees that only (Eastern) governments can offer, but still needs to maintain viewers in the sport's European heartland, resulting in gimmicks such as night races, so the FIA has sent out the message that F1 wants to have its cake and eat it.

Were Ron Dennis a petty man he might be tempted to stuff the powers that be, dropping Lewis Hamilton for the remainder of the season in favour of Pedro de la Rosa... see how the public would react to that.

However, he is not petty, he is a proud man, he will allow Lewis and Fernando to battle for the title, thus giving the FIA (and Bernie) the show its wants/needs even though he and his team have been publicly branded as cheats.

Luca do Montezemolo might be happy with the World Championship being decided in Paris, but true F1 fans are not. That is not to say that Ferrari are the guilty party, they are not, they are the victims.

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