I shall be intrigued to see whether or not Dave Ryan, the respected former McLaren F1 sporting director who lost his job in the wake of the so-called ‘Lie-gate’ controversy involving Lewis Hamilton and Jarno Trulli, will feel inclined to attend the FIA’s world motor sport council meeting on the matter on 29 April.
Alone among the leading players in this latest storm in an F1 teacup, Ryan, a 35-year veteran McLaren employee until this slight slip destroyed his career, is not obliged to attend in order to give his interpretation of events. The FIA only has jurisdiction over its licence holders and the employees of those licence holders.
Ryan, who was formally dismissed from the McLaren Group on the Monday following the Malaysian Grand Prix, need do nothing. He can be requested, invited, tempted and persuaded to attend, but he cannot now be forced to do anything which he finds disagreeable and unacceptable. Such emancipation may have come late in the day for this fine fellow – and it may have been unwillingly received – but every situation has its mitigating circumstances and these are Ryan’s.
This week the FIA increased the pressure on Hamilton. A source close to the FIA commented: “First of all Lewis heard the radio exchange. It appeared that the strategy (his and Ryan’s) was to be extremely vague and not be very direct with the answers. Then the interview where he (Hamilton) said ‘I was told to let him past’ was played. At this point both got very uncomfortable, but still denied that’s what actually happened.”
Hamilton’s career will recover from this brief setback, which is really nothing more than a touch of immaturity and inexperience. Whether McLaren will survive without being significantly damaged is less certain.
Either way, I expect that Lewis will remain a McLaren driver for the foreseeable future. The real test for any driver is how he handles the difficult times rather than the times when success flows easily.