Team McLaren Mercedes have been cleared of their Team Order Row. McLaren were under scrutiny from the FIA for allegedly issuing team orders that prevented Lewis Hamilton from challenging Fernando Alonso for the race lead, so that McLaren have a sure shot chance of a 1-2 finish, charges of which they have been cleared fair and square.
Following are the excerpts from the official FIA statement, which clear the air around the controversy.
- A two-stop strategy is the optimum at Monaco unless the safety car is deployed, in which case one-stop can sometimes be better and the safety car has been deployed during four of the past five Monaco Grands Prix, but was not deployed this year.
- It is clear from FIA measurements taken after qualifying that McLaren fuelled Hamilton for five more laps than Alonso. This allowed Hamilton the option of a one-stop strategy should the safety car have come out during his first stint.
- With no safety car during Alonso’s first stint, there was a small but finite risk that it would come out during the five laps before Hamilton had to refuel. This would have put him behind the field and at a significant disadvantage to any car on a full (as opposed to optional) one-stop strategy. The latter cars would be expected to refuel around lap 40 – ie after the safety car had pitted if it came out during Hamilton’s extra laps.
- For similar reasons Hamilton was called in early for his second pit stop, thus assuring his second place, with or without a safety car.
- Had the car in front of Hamilton not been his team-mate, McLaren might (probably would) have decided to risk the safety car and let Hamilton run for as long as his fuel load allowed in the hope that he would come out of the pits in the lead after one of his pit stops. There is, however, no obligation on them to take this risk in order to overtake their own car. Indeed it would be foolish to do so.
- It is standard procedure for a team to tell its drivers to slow down when they have a substantial lead. This is in order to minimise the risk of technical or other problems. It is also standard practice and entirely reasonable to ask the drivers not to put each other at risk.
- McLaren were able to pursue an optimum team strategy because they had a substantial advantage over all other cars. They did nothing which could be described as interfering with the race result.
The point to point explanation of McLaren strategy, leaves no doubt in my mind that had the safety car been deployed, Hamilton who would have been in a position to make the most of it. Plus the strategy in accordance with McLaren pace at Monaco was an almost foolproof one for a 1-2 finish, sans any technical or driver error.
So, I must say, it was perfect a race weekend with a perfect strategy for Team McLaren that ended the way it was supposed to, along with all the free controversy and publicity.