SEPTEMBER 15, 2007

Ron's dilemma

McLaren boss Ron Dennis has to decide in the next few days whether he will pay the $100m fine to the FIA or whether he will fight the fine and cause more disruption in the sport. The implication in this is that Dennis believes that the fine is unfair but knows that to fight on would be to stir up more trouble in the "interests of the sport". There are good reasons not to appeal, not least because that could cause problems for the team in 2008.

"Everything in this document that the FIA says is true," he said. "True in their content. It happened. But there is only one thing that I feel is not appropriate. This is a fine so disproportionate to the reality of the situation. So the decision I have is not whether to appeal their findings. It is: do I appeal the fine? Does McLaren take a financial hit in the interests of the sport? Once I have reached a decision I will make a recommendation to my shareholders, and it is they who will decide. If we do not appeal this it will be because we want closure. Do you really think it's a great backdrop for Formula 1 and my company if we've one-and-a-half to two years of legal aggravation with my management that is not there for that? They are there to focus on making race-winning cars and enter into commercial relationships with sponsors. I have had letters, emails and faxes that have streamed into me over the last 24 hours, and not one sponsor is not committed to staying with this racing team and backing us to the hilt. So I don't want to drag them into it. I don't want to drag this thing out, if I can get closure. Closure is for Formula 1, and it has to be complete closure. I hope the other teams understand the financial penalty we will swallow in the interests of the sport. The important thing to us is the company's integrity, and the firm belief of the world that we have never competed with a car that has anybody else's technology in it. We want to win fair and square, and if the penalty for that is money - putting aside the points because it's about money in the end - then that's the penalty. If the perception of the media and the public is that McLaren did not cheat, we did everything we could to co-operate, then we probably will take the financial hit - if there is closure and it is in the interests of the sport."