In an emotional press conference turned confessional, Lewis Hamilton has offered his apology for his part in the Australian Grand Prix controversy. The World Champion said that he was instructed to lie by his team manager Dave Ryan.
The confession was met with applause by the media who had gathered to hear his statement.
“In Melbourne, I had a great race. As soon as I got out the car I had the television interviews at the back of the garage, and straight away I gave them a good account of what happened during the race,” said Hamilton.
“Straight after that we were requested by the stewards, and while waiting for the stewards I was instructed and misled by my team manager to withhold information, and that is what I did.
“I sincerely apologise to the stewards for wasting their time and for making them look silly. I am very, very sorry for the situation: for my team, for Dave because he has been a good member of the team for many years, and whilst I don’t think it was his intention or…he is a good guy.
“I went into the meeting, I had no intention of…I just wanted to tell the story and say what happened. I was misled and that is the way it went. I would like to say a big sorry to all my fans who have believed in me, who have supported me for years, who I showed who I am for the past three years, and it is who I am. I am not a liar. I am not a dishonest person. I am a team player.
“Every time I have been informed to do something I have done it. This time I realise it was a huge mistake and I am learning from it. It has taken a huge toll on me. I apologise to you guys, I didn’t speak to you yesterday, but there was a lot to take in and a lot to deal with. I am here to apologise to everyone and I assure you it won’t happen again.”
“I’ve never felt so bad,” he said. “Try and put yourself in my position and understand that, like I said, I am not a liar. I have not gone through my life being a liar or dishonest. And so for people to say I am dishonest and for the world to think that….what can I say?
“For me, the situation is definitely the worst thing I’ve experienced in my life. That is why I am here. It is right for me as a human being and as a man to stand in front of you all and tell you exactly what went on and put up my hands. I cannot tell you how sorry I am. I’m sorry to my team and my family for the embarrassment. It is a very, very embarrassing situation.”
“I am sure the FIA will act accordingly and in the right way. I don’t know what else is going to happen in the future. For me now, I have to focus on the race and try to move forward from this, learn from it and grow.”
The confession effectively threw Dave Ryan to the wolves and as part of the effort to expunge themselves of any further disdain and possible corrective action; McLaren have suspended Ryan after service to McLaren for 35 years. Martin Whitmarsh said:
“In my 20-odd years working for McLaren, I doubt if I’ve met a more dedicated individual than Davey,” said Whitmarsh. “He’s been an integral part of McLaren since 1974 and has played a crucial role in the team’s many world championship successes since that time.
“However, his role in the events of last Sunday, particularly his dealings with the FIA stewards, has caused serious repercussions for the team, for which we apologise. Therefore, I suspended him this morning and he has accepted this.” “It has become clear from discussions with Dave last night and through into this morning that during the stewards’ meeting after the Australian Grand Prix he was not entirely full and truthful in the answers that he gave to the stewards. “Consequently we had no alternative today other than to suspend him,”
The suggestion is that Lewis and Davey were the only two aware of the lies and deceit last Sunday. That no other McLaren person was involved. Lewis went to great pains to explain to his fans that his actions are not indicative of who he is as a person and that he was really just doing what his team told him to do; in particular Dave Ryan.
So Ryan takes the fall for what will probably be termed Lie-gate by the media and who can blame them? This episode is just another event that has become de rigueur in F1. Bernie Ecclestone suggest to Bild that Dave Ryan is a scapegoat as he is merely an employee. The implication is that this may have come down from the top or at the least, top brass knew about the deceit. David Couthard chimed in as saying that some drivers only think of themselves and likened Lewis’s actions as similar to those of Senna and Schumacher. But the big comment came from former champion Fernando Alonso who was asked if this reminded him of his stint at McLaren in 2007:
“Of course it reminds me of 2007. This is not the first time they have been to the stewards, it is not the first time they have lied to the stewards, so sooner or later they had to be caught and punished,” Alonso is quoted as saying by Diario AS.
In July of 2008, Whitmarsh had this to say when they promoted Ryan to the post:
â€œGiven his stature within the team, and the commitment he shows to his role, we thought the new title of sporting director best reflected the progressive evolution of Daveyâ€™s responsibilities within McLaren,â€ said Whitmarsh.
â€œDave has been hugely committed to this team; he joined McLaren in 1974 and has played a central role in developing the race team into what it is today.
â€œWe all appreciate Daveyâ€™s contribution: heâ€™s loyal, forthright and fearlessly hard working.
â€œIn fact, heâ€™s pivotal to the way we go racing each weekend and thoroughly deserves to take on this broader role.
â€œBut while his duties expand, he still remains our conduit to the wider world of F1 and will continue to attend the regular team managersâ€™ meetings.â€
So Dave Ryan is thrown to the wolves after 30+ years of service to protect Lewis and McLaren from critical accusations of deceit / lying. Lewis offers mea culpa and the journalists all applause at the brave actions of this misunderstood and misled young man? It reminds me of the final scene from a movie called Quiz Show starring Ralph Fiennes. After lying the public and bieng prompted to do so by the shows organizers, he testifies before a sub committee and tells the truth. Applause, accolades and smiles abound. Until one senator raises his hand and says the very thing I feel regarding this incident:
I’m happy that you’ve made the statement…but I cannot agree with most of my colleagues.
See, I don’t think an adult of your intelligence ought to be commended…
for simply, at long last, telling the truth.
Stay tuned, it may not be over yet.