Renault guilty but unpunished in spying case

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2007 | Andrew Ferraro / LAT PhotographicThe Renault team have been found guilty of bringing Formula 1 into disrepute but the FIA is not going to punish them. The reasoning for the decision will be published tomorrow (Friday 7th December).

Renault’s Flavio Briatore issued a statement saying: “I would like to thank Renault, our title sponsor ING and all our partners for their wholehearted support during this sensitive period.

“I also wish to pay tribute to the team, which has handled the matter with integrity and dignity. We are pleased that we can now focus fully on our preparations for the 2008 championship.”

In July McLaren was found to have been in possession of Ferrari information but went unpunished. In September they received a $100m fine and exclusion from the 2007 constructors’ championship after further evidence came to light proving how widely the information had been disseminated throughout the team. However proof of use was never established.

When McLaren was exonerated in July, FIA president Max Mosley said:

It is the unanimous view of the World Council that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes were in possession of Ferrari secrets or Ferrari information, by virtue of Mr Coughlan?s possession thereof, irrespective of certain other elements. We therefore find Vodafone McLaren Mercedes in breach of Article 151c. However, the evidence of any use of this material in a manner calculated to interfere with the Formula 1 World Championship is insufficient for us to impose any penalty. Should, in the future, evidence emerge showing that the Formula 1 World Championship was prejudiced in any way by the possession of this information by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, either in 2007 or 2008 or any years subsequent to that, we reserve the right to invite the team back in front of the World Council, where they would be faced with the possibility of exclusion, not only from the 2007 World Championship, but also from the 2008 World Championship.

It remains to be seen exactly why the FIA has chosen not to punish Renault having found them guilty of “fraudulent conduct or acts prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally.” And whether it will threaten Renault with similar action to the above should further evidence come to light.

The FIA are also expected to announce their verdict on their investigation of the 2008 McLaren tomorrow having inspected it to judge if it contains any traces of Ferrari’s intellectual property.

Andrew Ferraro / LAT Photographic

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21 comments on Renault guilty but unpunished in spying case

  1. Wesley said on 6th December 2007, 23:11

    This looked worse than the McLaren spying case,I can’t beleive they get away without punishment!

    I will say no more until I’ve read the report on Friday.Bite my tongue till then.

  2. Eric M. said on 6th December 2007, 23:29

    They’ve be found guilty of having stolen IP, but just because they haven’t used it they go unpunished? Geez, Max! How does that work?

    By that logic, I should go unpunished for stealing your stereo, even if I didn’t listen to it, or even turn it on. Nice.

    Can this whole thing get ANY more politically motivated?

  3. Dan M said on 6th December 2007, 23:34

    It boils down to Max being scared of Ferrari and Renault, two manufacturers he wants in the sport. He thinks McLaren are disposable and treats them as such. It just further proves his incompetence.

    Too bad for Red Bull, it would have been fun to see Alonso end up there.

  4. wellll mclaren were unpunished at first as well.during the appeal, or the second hearing it took new evidence in the form of driver emails proving they were testing ferrari stuff to finally give them a fine.

  5. I will wait for the full statement from the FIA, but until then I am certainly not pleased with this outcome. Renault appeared to have even more damning evidence against them, and they go unpunished, even when they are proven to be guilty.

    I suppose this means the 2007 season can finally end (pending McLaren don’t appeal and their 2008 car is approved)

  6. why did not I think of this outcome :-) looks like most of us already forgot the same happened to McLaren :-)

  7. If the FIA believed in its own reasoning for the way it has decided to judge the McLaren/Renault case, it would either have given the reasons today or delayed the verdict until it had concocted its reasons. As it stands, it just looks political and contrived.

  8. powerline2007 said on 7th December 2007, 1:19

    It’s time for anyone to forget about getting justice & due process from the FIA.

    It’s also time for Mclaren to take the case to an open civil court.

    The law of evidence & burden of proof in a civil court will sink the FIA.

  9. PinkPeril said on 7th December 2007, 1:24

    As if we needed any more proof that the case against McLaren was entirely political. Max Mosely is a disgrace.

    This just makes my blood boil. Whatever happened to the break away league that some of the teams were organising? Maybe they better have another look at those plans?

  10. Journeyer said on 7th December 2007, 1:49

    powerline, methinks if this case was thrown in a civil court, they might throw it back to the FIA for lack of jurisdiction.

    Actually, it’s a lose-lose situation for McLaren. If the civil court do try it and sink both Renault and the FIA, Renault will just leave the sport, while the sport will be permanently damaged (like the Tour de France the last 2 years). And that would damage McLaren a lot (more than Ferrari, Honda, and Toyota, for example), as they are mostly a racing business (not counting their Merc partnership).

    PinkPeril, the manufacturer breakaway will only work if they have Ferrari with them, otherwise, it’s headed for a flop. Remember that the GPWC never recovered from Ferrari moving back to the F1 side of the fence. Also, do remember that many or most of the new F1 regulations (esp. those on energy recovery) were made by Max AND the manufacturers.

  11. I’m waiting for the FIA official announcement before going any further. Even though I know it’s going to be late and pretty much inconsistent with the last case.

    I can’t even imagine the response if the FIA decide to declare the proposed McLaren 2008 car as unacceptable tomorrow as well!

  12. powerline2007 said on 7th December 2007, 2:35

    Journeyer, not to worry. The worst that can happen at the FIA is that Max will step down to save face. This may be enough to force some much needed changes in the FIA.

    A civil court is unlikely to damage Renault with a $100 million fine. Most likely, a few of their engineers will get criminal charges thrown at them for possession of stolen IPs.

    Prodrive & possibly VW Motorsports may be lining up for an F1 spot in 2009. Prodrive is linked to Aston Martin & VW is the 4th largest automobile company in the world.

    No, F1 is not going to fade away.

  13. VW may have the cash to foot the F1 bill but I am still to see any desire from them to enter … But to have a Bugatti on grid would be fun. And driver’s would get to drive Veyrons on their days off :-)

    Prodrive (or dave Richards) may own the Aston Martin but … The money for the F1 would likely have to come from pretty much the same pocket … Prodrive’s … At the moment all they could afford was buying 100% customer car …

    I am not saying these 2 will never enter, but for 12th team to appear on grid in a year time, the rules would have to change. If someone new wants to enter it is more likely they would buy an existing team … Super Aguri or Toro Rosso …

  14. powerline2007 said on 7th December 2007, 5:21

    “I am not saying these 2 will never enter, but for 12th team to appear on grid in a year time, the rules would have to change. If someone new wants to enter it is more likely they would buy an existing team … Super Aguri or Toro Rosso …”

    That’s why NASCAR is so much more exciting for most Americans. Neither Max nor Bernie has the imagination to bring the sport up to another level outside the courtroom or without politics.

  15. I did not hear many outcries after the McLaren verdict. What an unbiased bunch of people(no disrespect to those who asked Ron to go jump)!

    I already said this yesterday, that the punishment for Renault would be considerably little when compared to McLaren, for a couple of reasons. McLaren were using/or intending to use the info, which was clear from the mails exchanged between Coughlan and drivers. Renault, they only had the possession, like the first hearing of McLaren, they were guilty of bringing the sport to disrepute, yet, no penalty.

    In my opinion Renault, though should have been punished. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s commonsense. That though is rather uncommon in FIA what with all the damaging rule changes and all. There are three words that come to my mind, “What the ….!”

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