Espionage case set to drag on

Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Mercedes, Magny-Cours, 2007, 3 | DaimlerChryslerThe news that the appeal hearing into the espionage case set for Thursday 13th has been replaced by a new hearing of the World Motor Sports Council is bad news for McLaren.

The FIA has claimed a new hearing has been called because new evidence has come to light. It had earlier told McLaren that it could face disqualification from the 2007 and 2008 championships if new evidence proved it had gained an advantage by receiving confidential Ferrari documents.

But the change of plans for Thursday’s hearing also means the case may not be decided until after the championship finishes.

Whatever the outcome of Thursday’s new hearing, with some much at stake it is very likely that either side would want to appeal it.

Ferrari appealed the outcome of the original hearing in July, but their appeal was not scheduled until September. The world championship finishes in October.

Could we see the championship won by one team on the track – and then given to another team in the courts?

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21 comments on Espionage case set to drag on

  1. This case was unlikely to be decided before season’s end anyway. The FIA had always reserved the right to alter punishment for McLaren as evidence came in, and giving themselves the option of stripping McLaren’s 2008 championship rights was a clear signal that they expected late information all along.

    Of course, the trial of Nigel Stepney was supposed to be conducted by a law court. I do wonder how much affairs here will affect the case there.

  2. Nathan Jones said on 6th September 2007, 12:56

    hope not! it wil be a farce it that happens and surely bernie wouldnt allow it

  3. it is a bit difficult to make any opinion on this without knowing what exactly did make FIA to make this change in nature of the Sep 13 hearing … the very tame tone of the statement from McLaren may suggest though that they are aware this may not be good news for them…

  4. In fact, there may not be any appeal against whatever the court decides. The appeal after the first decision was begun by Max Mosley as a sop to Ferrari’s protests and was not an automatic right.

  5. It would be a real shame if the World Championship was to be decided in the courtroom instead of on the track. This would create such an anti-climax, especially as this has been one of the closest races for the World Championship in years. I really hope that this gets sorted out as soon as possible.
    I agree with Milos that there is suggestion that McLaren might be in a precarious position with regard to this new evidence.

  6. Really unfortunate for Mclaren, if it goes badly. And for Formula One. While we all love a bit of controversy in F1, no one really wants it to get so bad that championships are won in court. But somehow I can’t get rid of the feeling that McLaren is not entirely clean in this. If they are severely punished, they would be the ones who brought this debacle upon themselves and F1.

    Rumours are rife that Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa were in the know about the Ferrari stuff… and that Alonso himself may have brought it out to find a way to get his contract canceled…

  7. Daniel said on 6th September 2007, 19:34

    I don’t think McLaren will be excluded from 2008 championship, even if they deserve the punishment, cause making justice will be worse for Formula 1 racing interests than leaving McLaren unpunished, since there are few top teams (in fact, only two), and the World Motor Sports Council won’t deliberately destroy competition.
    No important trial occurs without political influence, and this one won’t be diferent.

    As for 2007, I believe, as it was suggested before, McLaren may lose only their constructor’s championship points, preserving the drivers or applying a less rigorous punishment for them, in order to keep the season attractive for the viewers.

  8. pierre said on 6th September 2007, 22:08

    I believe a ban from the 2008 season will be the end of McLaren. One can only speculate but must assume that the ban from competition will also include a test ban for 2008. As we all know with the rapid technological advancement within F1 a team cannot afford to be excluded from testing let alone competitive racing. Then there is the question of sponsorships – surely Vodaphone and the lessor sponsors
    cannot motivate their alliance with a organisation found guilty of inethical misconduct. A “conviction” and ban cannot be good for the reputation of the Mercedes organisation either and perhaps even they (Mercedes) will re evaluate their involvement with F1. If Merc pulls the plug McL is gone and that will be a very, very sad day for F1 and all of us.
    Whatever the outcome the punishment must fit the crime. However one trust that commonsence will prevail and that the focus remain on punishment and not to destroy the team. (Presuming McL is guilty of misconduct and an unfair advantage)

  9. Is it true that Alonso & De La Rosa are now rumoured to be invovled as well? I hope not, that would be BAD for the sport

  10. Wesley said on 6th September 2007, 23:15

    Hold the phone!Where are these rumors of Alonso & Pedro coming from?

  11. Origin of the story is the German publication Auto Motor und Sport.

  12. verasaki said on 7th September 2007, 0:01

    Good question Wesley. I saw it on the ITV site and a couple other blogs that didn’t credit a source. If this were F1 Fun I’d say Col Mustard in the library with an ice pick because the implication would be: how much does Alonso want out of McLaren, how much does Dennis or Hamilton want Alonso out of McLaren and what would the odds be of DeLaRosa being the new # 2 in 2008 and which one of them leaked the email first? But that’s just levity speaking and I’ve had a silly suspicion since this mess started it was going to get uglier. I have wondered why Couglin is still a McLaren employee, though. Every indication is he suspended. Stepney was fired.

    Whatever, if this is not decided in McLaren’s favor I hate to think they would be banned in ’08-that really would seriously damage the entire series,possibly destroy McLaren and generally ruin-how many employees do they have?- alot of lives. I think it’s more likely they would be racing most if not all of the season under provisional suspension and get more than a $50k fine.

  13. If guiltiness is found, it could possibly mean driver’s points stripped couldn’t it? This could bode terribly for Hamilton.

  14. The Alonso – de la Rosa rumour is popping up on several sites… but no one has a source, so we dont know anything.

    That Coughlan is still a McLaren employee is strange. Why? Company policies don’t allow it and he could sue them if his guilt is not proven beyond doubt first?

    Or, he has power over the team in some other way?

  15. Funny how this all kicks off again at the start of a GP weekend, isn’t it?

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