I was told to lie by team, says shamed Hamilton

McLaren suspend director who told driver to withhold information from stewards

In the intervening 24 hours, the world had largely been minded to brand him a liar, notwithstanding the suspension by the McLaren team yesterday of their sporting director, Davy Ryan, who had instructed Hamilton to withhold information from the stewards.

"Melbourne was a great race," Hamilton began. "As soon as I got out of the car I did the television interviews and told my account of the race, then straight away I was told to go to the stewards to discuss the incident with Jarno Trulli." Hamilton had been forced to overtake the Italian under the safety car, when Trulli had slid momentarily off the road.

"It was while we were waiting for Trulli that I was misled," Hamilton continued, "and was instructed by my team manager to withhold information. That's what I did. I felt awkward and uncomfortable, and I think the stewards could see that."

Not since a passionate Ayrton Senna addressed the media in Australia back in 1989, after the FIA had penalised him out of victory the previous week in Japan, has a driver so bared his soul in front of the world.

"I sincerely apologise to the stewards for wasting their time and making them look stupid," Hamilton went on. "And I would like to say a big sorry to all my fans and the people who have believed in me and supported me for years. I have not gone through life being a liar and I am not a dishonest person, and I don't want the world to think that. I am a team player. Whenever I have been told to do things, I have done them.

"This has taken a huge toll on me, and I apologise for not speaking to people yesterday. I assure you, it won't happen again. That is why I am sitting before you now. It's not easy to put my hand up and admit that I was wrong, but I owe it to the fans to let them know. It is easy to be misled sometimes."

Hamilton said that only Ryan spoke with him prior to the stewards' meeting, and added: "We literally walked straight to the meeting. I was still in my race suit and had no time to think about what I was being asked to do. It was only afterwards that I wondered why. I had done nothing wrong in the race. Jarno had driven a fantastic race and it was not my intention to earn him a penalty. I don't want to win my points that way. I prefer to do that through hard work, like I did driving from the very back of the grid to fourth place."

The decision to suspend Ryan was taken by team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "Davy was the senior team person there," Whitmarsh said. "He took the responsibility to lead that process. I had to take an incredibly difficult decision. Davy has been with the team for 20 years and he is shattered by what has happened today. But he had the responsibility to ensure that the stewards received a full and honest account of what happened."

Whitmarsh denied accusations that McLaren was "contaminated by a culture of cheating," as one newspaper had claimed, and continued: "Davy made a serious error of judgement, and that is something that we have to put right. Lewis was not entirely truthful, but Davy was the senior team member. We are trying to deal with a situation that we got wrong.

"We were asking race control over the radio for advice and clarification of the situation, before Trulli repassed Lewis, but afterwards there was no discussion between us and Davy about what Lewis should say... It was his [Ryan's] judgement not to give a full account and Lewis was led by that. We've put our hands up and said he made a serious error of judgement... and we've come clean on that."

Prior to the apologies and Ryan's suspension, there had been speculation the FIA might seek further sanctions against Hamilton and McLaren, perhaps even seeking to have them thrown out of the world championship. But just as fears were growing of another debilitating political war between the team and the governing body, such as in 2007, a well-placed FIA spokesman said his advice to president Max Mosley would be that nothing would be served by pursuing things further.

Once again the sport's political machinations overshadowed the action on track, where Williams' Nico Rosberg set the fastest time in the first practice session, and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in the second. Hamilton was seventh and 11th respectively.

Malaysian Grand Prix: Track guide and qualifying times

*At 3.444 miles, the Sepang circuit is the fifth longest track on this season's Formula One calendar.

*The track is noted for the distinctive sweeping corners and two long, wide straights which were designed to encourage overtaking.

*The track is built on old jungle ground, giving it the highest humidity of any track.

*There is a high chance of rain during this weekend's race, with forecasts suggesting a 95 per cent chance of precipitation.

*First Practice Session

1 N Rosberg (Ger) Williams, 1min 36.260sec;

2 K Nakajima (Japan) Williams, 1:36.305;

3 J Button (Eng) Brawn, 1:36.430;

4 R Barrichello (Br) Brawn, 1:36.487;

5 F Massa (Br) Ferrari, 1:36.561;

6 K Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari, 1:36.646;

7 L Hamilton (Eng) McLaren, 1:36.699;

8 M Webber (Aus) Red Bull, 1:36.703;

9 S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull, 1:36.747;

10 T Glock (Ger) Toyota, 1:36.980;

11 J Trulli (It) Toyota, 1:36.982;

12 G Fisichella (It) Force India, 1:37.025;

13 R Kubica (Pol) BMW, 1:37.039;

14 N Piquet Jnr (Br) Renault, 1:37.199;

15 A Sutil (Ger) Force India, 1:37.241;

16 F Alonso (Sp) Renault, 1:37.395;

17 S Buemi (Swi) Toro Rosso, 1:37.634;

18 N Heidfeld (Ger) BMW, 1:37.640;

19 S Bourdais (Fr) Toro Rosso, 1:38.022;

20 H Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren, 1:38.483.

*Second Session

1 Raikkonen 35.707sec; 2 Massa 1:35.832; 3 Vettel 1:35.954; 4 Rosberg 1:36.015; 5 Webber 1:36.026; 6 Barrichello 1:36.161; 7 Button 1:36.254; 8 Nakajima 1:36.290; 9 Kovalainen 1:36.397; 10 Piquet Jnr 1:36.401; 11 Hamilton 1:36.515; 12 Trulli 1:36.516; 13 Buemi 1:36.628; 14 Glock 1:36.639; 15 Alonso 1:36.640; 16 Sutil 1:36.875; 17 Kubica 1:37.267; 18 Bourdais 1:37.278; 19 Fisichella 1:37.432; 20 Heidfeld 1:37.930.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor