McLaren not punished in spy case (updated)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes, Nurburgring, qualifyingThe FIA’s World Motor Sport Council have decided not to punish McLaren following a hearing into the Ferrari spying row.

However it has found the team guilty of possessing Ferrari’s documents and described at the penalties may be levied in the future if it emerges that McLaren had used the information:

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.”

Former McLaren employee Mike Coughlan, who was found to be in possession of a 780-page Ferrari dossier, and Ferrari’s Nigel Stepney, who was suspended by the team, have been called before the FIA: “to show reason why they should not be banned from international motor sport for a lengthy period”.

Ferrari were furious with the decision, issuing a strongly-worded statement:

[Ferrari]… finds it incomprehensible that violating the fundamental principle of sporting honesty does not have, as a logical and inevitable consequence, the application of a sanction. Today’s decision legitimises dishonest behaviour in Formula One and sets a very serious precedent.

In fact, the decision of the World Council signifies that possession, knowledge at the very highest level and use of highly confidential information acquired in an illicit manner and the acquiring of confidential information over the course of several months, represent violations that do not carry any punishment.

The fact that McLaren was in possession of such information was discovered totally by accident and, but for this, the team would continue to have it. This is all the more serious as it has occurred in a sport like Formula One in which small details make all the difference.

Ferrari feels this is highly prejudicial to the credibility of the sport. It will continue with the legal action already under way within the Italian criminal justice system and in the civil court in England.

Surprise, surprise, McLaren didn’t see it that way. Here’s their statement:

McLaren accepts the that the FIA World Motor Sport Council had no alternative other than to find that there was a purely technical breach by reason of the possession of certain information by one individual at his home, without McLaren’s knowledge or authority.

McLaren is delighted that the World Motor Sport Council determined that this information was not used and accordingly imposed no sanction whatsoever on the team. McLaren looks forward to continuing its fight in what is the most exciting Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championship in many years.

Earlier today reports in The Guardian and Corriere della Serra quoted a Ferrari document claiming that if the Italian team lost the world championship because McLaren gained an advantage it would cost them ?????????5.5m (???3.68m / $7.57m).

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