FIA Letter Puts McLaren Back Into 'Spy Scandal' Hype
Topics: FIA, McLaren
September 7, 2007
The alleged espionage involving McLaren Mercedes and Ferrari took another twist last Friday when a FIA letter was sent to the Woking team drivers – Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, and Pedro de la Rosa.
The sending of the correspondence followed FIA’s decision earlier this week to schedule a new hearing involving the circumstances surrounding the Woking team’s possession of confidential Ferrari data. This was decided after ascertaining the emergence of new evidence. It can be recalled that McLaren escaped penalty in the original hearing where the World Motor Sport Council decided there was no proof the team had made use of the data contained in the “spy dossier.”
In his letter, the FIA President specifically requests that the drivers of the concerned Formula One team forward details of any electronic communications that mention or involve Ferrari, or the Italian team’s former engineer Nigel Stepney. Stepney has denied allegations that he was the source of the leaked information.
The correspondence sent by FIA President Max Mosley has this to say: “The FIA formally requests that you produce copies of any relevant documents which may be in your possession or power of procurement and which may be relevant to this case. For these purposes ‘documents’ includes all written materials such as emails, letters, electronic communications, text messages, notes, memoranda, drawings, diagrams, data, or other material, stored in any physical, ‘hard copy’ or electronic form.”
The letter continued: “In particular (though without limiting the generality of this request), the FIA wishes to receive copies of any electronic communications which may be relevant to this case and which make reference to Ferrari, Nigel Stepney or any technical or other information coming from or connected with either Ferrari or Mr Stepney. In the event that you are aware of the existence or previous existence of any document falling within the above description but are not in a position to produce it, please describe the content of the document in question, the circumstances under which it came to your knowledge and the reasons why you are unable to produce it. In the event that you are unsure as to whether any document falls within the above description, kindly submit it and the FIA will assist in making a determination.”
Mosley also stressed that drivers would not face any proceedings under the International Sporting Code or the Formula One regulations, but warns that withholding any information could result in serious consequences.
Additionally, other Formula One teams received an official request from the FIA for any pertinent information. “It is the duty of all those involved in the sport to ensure the fairness and legitimacy of the FIA Formula One World Championship,” the letter concluded.
The Woking team’s lawyers advised their client to remain silent. As such, McLaren is expected to make no further comment ahead of next week’s World Motor Sport Council hearing concerning their possession of confidential Ferrari data.
Despite the espionage controversy, the Formula One team sponsored by the manufacturer of the Mercedes Benz turn signal lens is concentrating on winning the upcoming race at Monza. At Friday’s practice, Alonso finished first at 1m22.396s followed by teammate Hamilton at +0.823s.
“Today went really well. We had a good idea of our performance from the test last week, and although the conditions have changed slightly since then, we were able to get an understanding of the set-up for the race, and I am happy with how the car felt,” said the Spaniard driver.
“We went through our usual set-up and Bridgestone Potenza tyre comparison work and now have a good understanding of our competitiveness this weekend,” noted Hamilton.
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