McLaren Veteran Director Suspended, Formula One Soap Opera ContinuesS

Sporting director Dave Ryan, with McLaren for 35 years, has been suspended this morning in connection with Lewis Hamilton's disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix.

The news broke on the BBC’s live broadcast of this morning’s first practice at a humid Sepang International Circuit. At 01:14 PM local time (01:14 AM EST), Chris Whyatt reported:

McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan—who accompanied Lewis Hamilton to the fateful stewards’ meeting in Australia—has been seen leaving the track with packed bags.

At a news conference held later in the day, Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh confirmed the news of New Zealand-born Ryan’s firing, saying he had not been “entirely full and truthful with the answers he gave [to the stewards], so we had not alternative but to suspend him.”

To make an already gloomy week even worse for the house Bruce built, at today’s practice McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton could only manage 9th and 11th place, respectively, while Ferrari ended the session with a 1–2 of Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa.

McLaren Veteran Director Suspended, Formula One Soap Opera ContinuesS

The Brawn of Jenson Button came in 6th, followed by teammate Rubens Barrichello.

Practice will continue tomorrow morning, with qualifying to wrap up by 06:30 AM EST. The Malaysian Grand Prix begins on Sunday at 05:00 AM EST with what we hope is more racing and less monkey business.

Update: Brad Spurgeon of the New York Times's Formula One Blog continues his coverage of the mess straight from Malaysia. Conspiracy theorists, ahoy!

Photo Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images, Clive Mason/Getty Images