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McLaren summoned over lying row

FORMULA One's ruling body summoned McLaren to an extraordinary meeting on April 29 to answer charges that it deliberately misled stewards at the Australian Grand Prix.

The FIA said late on Tuesday that McLaren was charged with lying when it told race officials that it had not given Lewis Hamilton instructions to let Toyota's Jarno Trulli overtake while the pair were behind the safety car. The FIA said that McLaren had passed up two opportunities to rectify evidence it knew was false.

The second inquiry, before last week's Malaysian Grand Prix, stripped the defending world champion of his points and expelled his team from the season-opening race at Melbourne.

Hamilton has apologized and said he was "instructed and misled" into withholding evidence by sporting director Dave Ryan, whom McLaren has blamed for masterminding the deception.

McLaren said Ryan left the team on Tuesday.

"As a result, he is no longer an employee of any of the constituent companies of the McLaren Group," the English team said in a statement. "We undertake to cooperate fully with all WMSC (World Motor Sport Council) processes, and welcome the opportunity to work with the FIA in the best interests of Formula One."

Available penalties include suspending McLaren or Hamilton from future races or this year's entire championship.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has already said he is considering his future after going on holiday right after last weekend's season-opening race at Melbourne. Trulli was initially hit with a penalty of 25 seconds for overtaking behind the safety car, giving Hamilton third place.

McLaren has had previous trouble with the WMSC, which disqualified it from the constructors championship and fined it US$100 million as part of the spy scandal with Ferrari in 2007.

The latest scandal is sure to hurt ties between the team and its star driver Lewis Hamilton. London's Telegraph reported that Anthony Hamilton, the world champion's father and manager, is considering moving his son to another team to save his reputation.

Hamilton Sr. is known to be furious his son's integrity has been called into question. He is also unhappy at the car McLaren has produced this year.


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