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Formula 1 News - April, 2009
FIA 'recognises' Hamilton apology

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Apr.4 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton's public apology over the 'lie-gate' scandal was appreciated by the governing FIA, a spokesman has indicated.

While serious questions remain about McLaren's position, and also the damage done to the reigning world champion's reputation, the FIA official suggested the Briton had done the right thing to say sorry.

"We recognise Lewis' efforts to set the record straight today," he said. "It would appear that he was put in an impossible position.

"We are now awaiting reports from the FIA observer and stewards before consideration can be given to further investigation of the team's conduct. We cannot rule out the matter being referred to the World Council."

McLaren, nearly excluded from the championship amid the 'spygate' scandal of 2007, is therefore not out of the woods, and the British press remains ropable.

No matter the details of the stewards investigations, British journalists did not welcome news that sporting director Dave Ryan has been suspended.

"Someone high up at McLaren, along with Hamilton's father-manager Anthony, decided that Ryan should go," the Daily Mail said, after Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday said he sensed the McLaren veteran has been made a scapegoat.

"It was convenient for Hamilton to lay the blame on Ryan. 'I was only acting on orders, guv'. It was also useful for Whitmarsh. 'I knew nothing, Your Honour'. But at a closer examination, is it all so innocent?" the Daily Mail wondered.

The Telegraph was even unimpressed with Hamilton's apology, in which he made clear he only lied to stewards because he was ordered to by the now ousted Ryan.

"At 24 Hamilton is old enough and big enough to stand his ground. It is time for him to take greater responsibility for his own actions, to ... be a man," the newspaper said.

Long-standing elements of the British corps, who have known Ryan since his days at McLaren looking after James Hunt, doubted the apparent straightforwardness of his wrongdoing.

"Having known Ryan for more than 25 years, there is no one more honest or straightforward in formula one," said writer Maurice Hamilton. "I don't doubt (Lewis) Hamilton but (this) is completely out of character for Ryan.

"Is Ryan ... being made the fall guy? That would appear to be the case."

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh, who only took the reigns of the Woking team from Ron Dennis last month, is right in those journalists' firing line.

"He appears to have fallen at the first hurdle thanks to his lack of support for a man (Ryan) who has served the team faultlessly for 34 years," the Guardian said.

London's the Times added: "Whitmarsh may yet have to pay the price for this shameful business, especially with his account yesterday leaving many questions as yet unanswered about who knew what and when among senior managers."

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