FIA requests BBC's Whitmarsh tapes

The FIA has written to the BBC to ask for copies of interviews McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh conducted with the broadcaster in the immediate aftermath of the Australian Grand Prix

FIA requests BBC's Whitmarsh tapes

As motor racing's governing body continues its investigation into the lying controversy surrounding the McLaren team, the BBC has been asked to supply comments made by Whitmarsh in Melbourne that could throw a fresh light on how much he knew about what happened behind the safety car in the closing stages of the race.

Although Whitmarsh claimed at the Malaysian Grand Prix that he knew nothing about Lewis Hamilton and McLaren's former sporting director Dave Ryan denying to stewards that there had been a radio order to let Jarno Trulli overtake, his comments in the aftermath of the race suggest he shared the line they told stewards that the Toyota driver had forced his way by.

In a live interview with BBC Radio 5 shortly after the Melbourne race, Whitmarsh said: "Under the last safety car, Trulli's Toyota fell off the circuit and was on the grass. Lewis passed him as he could legitimately do so, and thereafter Trulli repassed under the safety car and the early indications from the stewards were that they felt that was incorrect. They are doing the full investigation as we speak and we will shortly learn if it is a third or a fourth place."

In another interview that Whitmarsh is alleged to have conducted with BBC pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz, it is suggested he said: "Trulli then retook the place under the safety car, which ordinarily you wouldn't do. I know that the FIA are looking at it at the moment."

The FIA has been alerted to the presence of these interviews and wants the BBC to supply any evidence that it believes will be helpful to its investigation.

McLaren is to face a hearing of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council later this month to answer disrepute charges that it lied to stewards - and forced Hamilton to supply an 'untrue statement' to support its case.

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