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McLaren Strikes Back At Ferrari

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  McLaren, Ferrari

McLaren Strikes Back At Ferrari

Anthony Fontanelle
August 2, 2007

With the Hungarian Grand Prix just around the corner, the battle outside the tracks is raging on. McLaren has been accused by Ferrari of spying. The grounds for such accusations came after Ferrari data were found in the possession of McLaren’s now suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan. The said dossier was turned over to Coughlan by former Ferrari senior engineer Nigel Stepney.

The FIA conducted an investigation regarding the matter. On the 26th of last month, four days after the European Grand Prix, an emergency World Motor Sport Council was held in Paris. At the said council, McLaren was summoned to answer the charges against them.

The verdict of the FIA states: “The WMSC is satisfied that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was in possession of confidential Ferrari information and is therefore in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code. However, there is insufficient evidence that this information was used in such a way as to interfere improperly with the FIA Formula One World Championship. We therefore impose no penalty.”

But McLaren was not let off the hook by the FIA. “But if it is found in the future that the Ferrari information has been used to the detriment of the championship, we reserve the right to invite Vodafone McLaren Mercedes back in front of the WMSC where it will face the possibility of exclusion from not only the 2007 championship but also the 2008 championship,” the statement from the FIA continued.

Ferrari’s team principal Jean Todt was furious of the decision. The Italian team is appealing the verdict and is planning to file charges against McLaren, Coughlan, and Stepney.

McLaren’s team principal, Ron Dennis, recently answered back and criticized Ferrari. According to Dennis, Stepney acted as a whistleblower, telling McLaren’s Coughlan that the Ferrari cars fielded for the Australian Grand Prix uses questionable components. “Specifically, he told Mr. Coughlan about a floor attachment mechanism and a rear wing separator, both of which could be and were seen on the Ferrari car prior to the Australian Grand Prix,” said Dennis in the team’s official site.

McLaren requested the FIA to clarify the use of the said components. The ruling body decided that the rear wing separator is legal but not the floor mechanism. Dennis said that: “As far as we are aware, Ferrari ran their cars with this illegal device at the Australian Grand Prix, which they won. In the interests of the sport, McLaren chose not to protest the result of the Australian Grand Prix even though it seems clear that Ferrari had an illegal competitive advantage.”

The statement from Dennis came after Todt pointed out that a whistleblower usually goes to the authority - in this case, the FIA. Dennis countered: “It is in the interests of Formula One that whistle-blowing is encouraged and not discouraged.”

Dennis also clarified that Coughlan took the dossier from Stepney not to use it for the McLaren team. “As it is now in the public domain, Mr. Coughlan has admitted that Mr. Stepney gave him a dossier of Ferrari documents in Barcelona which he took for his own private reasons.”

McLaren currently leads both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship standings. Both the team’s drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, are driving the MP4-22 for the 2007 season. The car uses a Mercedes-Benz engine, made by the same makers of Mercedes-Benz door handles and Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Ferrari sits at second in the constructors’ championship and their drivers occupy the third and fourth place in the drivers’ standings.

Source:  Amazines.com

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