Ferrari’s friend wins right to McLaren appeal

Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Nurburgring, 2007 | Ferrari MediaThe McLaren-Ferrari espionage allegations have now been referred to the appeal court following last week’s exoneration of McLaren.

As Ferrari were not allowed to file an appeal against the decision themselves, it seems they have called upon the assistance of an influential Italian ally.

That ally also made plain his belief that McLaren were guilty following the first hearing last week.

Luigi Macaluso is the President of the CIK-FIA International Karting Commission and the Commissione Sportiva Automobilistica Italiana (CSAI). He therefore has a seat on the World Motor Sports Council, the body that cleared McLaren on Thursday.

Immediately after the verdict – which the FIA claimed was unanimous – he said the following:

I was the only one that tried to explain that McLaren was guilty. For me they are guilty and that’s that.

Pretty unequivocal stuff. But the FIA had this to say afterwards:

We can confirm that the World that the World Motor Sport Council’s decision was unanimous. We can only imagine that Mr Macaluso’s comments were either taken out of context or were not clearly expressed in the media scrum which ensued outside the hearing.

Was Macaluso speaking his mind? Very probably. For it was he, on behalf of the CSAI that yesterday petitioned FIA President Max Mosley for an appeal against the exoneration:

We find it quite difficult to justify how a team has not been penalised while it has been found in breach of clause 151c of the International Sporting Code. Indeed, this is probably the most fundamental provision of our sport. In the present case the infringement is very serious since it has been assessed that the team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has repeatedly breached such provision, over several months, through several top team representatives, to the detriment of its most direct competitor and therefore to its direct or indirect advantage and knowing that such infringement would still be ongoing would it had not been fortuitously discovered.

He makes the same logical leap as Ferrari have in assuming that because one member of the McLaren team had access to a Ferrari document the team as a whole must therefore have been able to obtain an advantage (“to the detriment of its most direct competitor”).

Ferrari were not able to make an appeal against the WMSC decision themselves as the governing body’s rules prevents it. So did they lean on their ally Macaluso to produce an appeal?

Apparently he has been a friend of the Ferrari family since the 1960s and has had an official deal to produce Ferrari-branded watches since 1994.

Mosley in his reply conceded that there should be an appeal. But he also pointed out the critical lack of proof that prevented the WMSC from punishing McLaren with the full weight of the law – a multi-year suspension from the championship.

Photo: Ferrari Media

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8 comments on Ferrari’s friend wins right to McLaren appeal

  1. “He makes the same logical leap as Ferrari”
    I just have one question because I am genuinely curious about this particular argument that McLaren is innocent even if Coughlan is guilty. Agreed that if Coughlan had been swiping Ferrari documents and nobody in McLaren knew about it till it was exposed, then one shouldn’t be too harsh on McLaren consequently. But the question is –

    Isn’t it true that quite a few members of the McLaren top management knew of this before Coughlan was exposed?

    Because,
    (a) If they knew about it, and they let Coughlan continue as chief designer and didn’t tell anyone, isn’t that TOTALLY unethical?
    (b) On top of that, if they suspend Coughlan AFTER he was exposed, doesn’t that reek of hypocrisy?
    (c) If they knew about it, and then didn’t tell Ferrari about Stepney despite asking for an agreement of cooperation, isn’t that unethical too?

    I don’t see how this issue boils down to being a Ferrari supporter or a McLaren supporter, it is merely a question of sporting integrity – Is it okay for a team to steal and use data from its chief rival in a championship battle (irrespective of whether the stealing is active (they asked someone to steal the documents) or passive (they knew the documents were stolen and didn’t do anything about it)?

  2. Mosley’s reply to Macaluso lists the allegations against McLaren by Ferrari and Macaluso in the last couple of days and then points out that the WMSC had no proof of any of them and so could not take them into account. In allowing Ferrari to have its day in court, Max is effectively calling its bluff.

  3. I don’t support either team, I like BMW, and I agree with your basic contention, Ferrari Fan, that this should be a matter of sporting integrity above everything else. But your questions are all “ifs” – we don’t know the answers and Ferrari say one thing, McLaren another. Without some form of proof, any court would be playing favourites to decide one way or the other.

  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 31st July 2007, 21:11

    I do agree, FerrariFan, that the point you’ve highlighted is contentious, and it’s being discussed at length around the internet and on this earlier post.

    The reason I pointed it out here was to illustrate that Ferrari and Macaluso are signing from the same sheet.

  5. Fair enough. I just think stealing = knowledge + inaction, and not “evidence of usage”. If it can be established that there was no knowledge of stolen documents at McLaren, then I agree that anything more than a fine would be totally inappropriate.

    We shall wait and see, but the general impression I get is that judging from the affidavit leaks and Todt’s recent statement (that people in McLaren top management knew, firewall against Stepney et al – which McLaren has not denied as far as I know), the lack of evidence is not regarding knowledge of the top management. Lack of evidence relates to usage. Which is totally ridiculous as this cannot be proved by Ferrari unless they pinch the McLaren documents in turn.

  6. Number 38 said on 1st August 2007, 1:43

    No evidence, No crime? Consider this, maybe NOT copying someone else’s design is the benefit. Considering the millions spent on research, had McLaren seen Ferrari research and realized some things Ferrari had done were negative to performance, then McLaren wouldn’t test in that area and thus save millions.

    Also if McLaren’s management knew of the Coughlan activities before the expose and did nothing…….that doesn’t bode well for Mr. Dennis and associates. B.A.R.-Honda was penalized two races and points because one car was a couple kilos light, isn’t this more agregious misconduct worth something similar?

  7. further to Number 38 – Kubica was disqualified from Hungarian GP last year because as a rookie he did not pick up enough rubber from the track on the way back to pits and ended up a bit underweight … He and BMW lost 2 points as a result… here somebody is found to be guilty, but left without punishment because there is not enough proof. so enough proof to find them guilty, but not enough proof to punish :-)
    i still think it is sensible for FIA to take time before they they decide if and how they penalize McLaren. And frankly, who expected Ferrari to walk away without considering further action… However the way the FIA handles and argues the whole case makes them look like bunch of fools …

  8. I’m no expert but shouldn’t McLaren be held responsible for the action of their staff?

    If a McLaren engineer walked over to Kimi’s car and literally dropped a spanner in the works who would get penalised? Would McLaren be at fault or just the individual?

    You could argue, as they do in a lot of corporation law, that there is a culture of acting in a certain way, and that this culture meant that the employee did not see that the action was wrong.

    This to a certain extent was why Ron’s tears about the reputation of his firm were so crucial. They were trying to paint the opposite picture.

    I have no idea of the truth, but the oddest thing to me is that while Ferrari fired Stepney, McLaren haven’t fired Coughlan. He’s just suspended. That feels odd to me.

    I totally agree with Number 38 about there being a lot of things you could learn from the documents.

    But I think (much as it pains me to say it) James Allen was right in his comment on the itv-f1 website. He suggested that the lack of professionalism in it being Coughlan’s wife in a copy shop who was caught is the biggest indicator that the senior management hadn’t got a clue what was going on.

    This still doesn’t cover the problem of if it would have been considered culturally okay to use the information within McLaren. If it was McLaren should be punished.

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