Ecclestone: McLaren could face heavy fine

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone expects a heavy fine for McLaren if the team are found guilty of breaking the sports' regulations

Ecclestone: McLaren could face heavy fine

The FIA opened an investigation into McLaren's one-two victory at the Monaco Grand Prix, to find if the British squad had used any illegal team orders.

Fernando Alonso won the race on Sunday, finishing ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, who revealed afterwards that he had been told to ease off to avoid risking an accident.

Team orders have been banned since the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix, where Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello to let Michael Schumacher win.

Ecclestone reckons that, if McLaren are found guilty, the team would be lucky to get a fine.

"I don't know what the team orders are or were," Ecclestone was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

"One thing is for sure: if there were team orders which relate to the position of the two drivers — if somebody is told to move over or hold their position — it is against all the sporting regulations we have.

"If there were orders, they would be getting off lightly if they get the same sort of fine as Ferrari. They could be excluded from the championship or they could have points deducted.

"A fine for McLaren, with its money, would not have the same effect as docking points."

He added: "If there were instructions, it wouldn't be the drivers' fault. If I'm driving for you and you tell me to stay where I am and not overtake the guy in front, what can I do?  It would be those who give the orders who should receive the punishment."

Team boss Ron Dennis said after the race, however, that McLaren had not used team orders.

"We don't have team orders, we had a strategy to win this race," he said. "I make no excuses for instructing the racing drivers to slow their pace after the first stop and to effect our strategy."

Williams' co-owner Patrick Head, meanwhile, has joined the group of people who believe McLaren did nothing wrong at Monaco.

"The influence of a team over the result can occur in many ways, not just by instructing the drivers: there are the pit stops, fuel levels, car specifications," Head told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"A team that dominates at Monaco, like McLaren or Ferrari in the past years, and leaves the drivers free to fight it out, can then be blamed if an accident occurs.

"But since a similar domination happens once or twice per year, I think a team cannot be criticized for their wish to ensure themselves maximum points."

Former champion Niki Lauda agreed: "I don't think anything special happened. When you have a one-minute advantage, it's right to defend the team's result."

Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger added that Sunday's race had nothing to do with Ferrari's Austrian controversy.

"What happened at Monaco is very different from what happened at Zeltweg. A team can instruct their drivers to maintain position," Berger said.

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