‘McLaren witch hunt’ discussed at second spy hearing

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Melbourne, 2007, 2 | DaimlerI’m still trying to get everything that happened in F1’s two spying scandals straight in my head at the moment.

While doing some work on it tonight I came across a passage that give further insight into Max Mosley’s thinking on the FIA’s pursuit of the Sunday Times and Martin Brundle over the ‘witch hunt’ article.

It was at the second hearing into the McLaren-Ferrari spy scandal that Mosley first referred to the idea that the FIA’s pursuit of McLaren was a witch hunt. Here’s what was said.

This excerpt from the transcript of the September hearing came after Nigel Tozzi’s summation of the Ferrari case and before Ian Mill began summing up McLaren’s position:

Max MOSLEY
Mr Mill, before you begin, may I raise a point with you in the McLaren submission?

On page 25 is a document headed ?σΤιΌ?τnon-discrimination and transparency?σΤιΌ?Ψ. On page 27, there is reference to the assertion that: ?σΤιΌ?τFIA?σΤιΌΤδσs undertaking to the European Commission to act in an even-handed way as between competitors is fundamental?σΤιΌ?Ψ.

On paragraph 59, I would have a lot to say about this, but we do not have time. Then, in paragraph 60, there are a number of ?σΤιΌ?τfurther serious concerns?σΤιΌ?Ψ. It is stated that McLaren has been the subject of discriminatory treatment in the context of its preparation for this hearing.

Two example are listed under that. One says that McLaren has been faced with barrage of materials and subject to a series of extremely short deadlines in what the press now routinely describes as a ?σΤιΌ?τwitch hunt?σΤιΌ?Ψ. Is this a point that McLaren is actually making and wants to make: that this should be described as a witch hunt?

Ian MILL
You will forgive those in McLaren who have taken quite enough ?σΤιΌ?τmedicine?σΤιΌ?Ψ ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Mr Tozzi referred also to a siege mentality ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ if they sometimes believe this to be the case. I do not know whether there is a witch hunt and am not here to make submissions on that either way. You will forgive those in the company if they sometimes think this is the case.

Max MOSLEY
You say that you are not here to make submissions on that, but you do. They are here in front of us, in writing, and refer to a ?σΤιΌ?τwitch hunt?σΤιΌ?Ψ.

Ian MILL
It says that the press refers to a witch hunt. Our point is simply that we have been met with no small amount of new material and have had a short period of time in which to deal with it. In other situations, not before this sporting body, a much greater period of time would have been given, and far greater time set aside for this matter to be dealt with. We would have had the opportunity to produce all of our evidence. We could have produced all of our engineers and done everything so much more effectively. The FIA takes its own course as to what it believes to be a just, fair and reasonable process. Other bodies might take a different view. All I can tell you is that we have done the best that we can in a very difficult set of circumstances. Factually speaking, this is the result of the deadlines imposed upon us. I am not telling you that you would have given Ferrari four months in a similar situation. I am simply saying how we find ourselves.

Max MOSLEY
You adopted that phrase, ?σΤιΌ?τwitch hunt?σΤιΌ?Ψ. Do you still adopt it?

Ian MILL
I am not here to support or deny. I am telling you only what my clients feel.

Max MOSLEY
In the second paragraph, it says that ?σΤιΌ?τsteps have been taken?σΤιΌ?Ψ ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ implying that these have been taken by the FIA ?σΤιΌΤΗ£

Ian MILL
Oh no. I am so sorry.

Max MOSLEY
This is all about the FIA and our being non-discriminatory.

Ian MILL
I am not suggesting and have no evidence to suggest that we have been subjected to particular treatment in that respect, specifically by the FIA. What is of very great concern to us is why we have been treated that way in Italy by those who chose that course of action. Let me make that absolutely clear. I am not here to suggest that you in any way orchestrated what happened in Italy. Our concern is what happened. We think it was disgraceful and those responsible for it ought to regret what happened.

Max MOSLEY
If you list the European Commission and the concept of non-discrimination and transparency,

Ian MILL
Will you take my apology as someone who has not had a great deal of sleep and who has done his best to produce a document for this body, in the time available to him.

Max MOSLEY
Enough said.

Ian MILL
May I make my submissions?

Max MOSLEY
Yes.

Max Mosley, FIA Gala, 2007 | FIAAlthough McLaren shied away from pressing the ‘witch hunt’ point they do refer to the speed with which the proceedings were conducted.

Throughout the transcript Mosley can be seen making references to the tight demands of time. (as above: “I would have a lot to say about this, but we do not have time.”) That’s understandable up to a point, but perhaps more time should have been allocated for the hearing in the first place?

And it’s not as if the council had any compunction about stretching the hearing over the fuel temperature onto a second day when that matter was heard in November.

Tangentially, while I’m think about the FIA’s battle with the press, here’s a final thought: I still think it’s odd none of the major news outlets reported on the FIA’s gigantic faux pas when it issued the original version of the September 13th transcripts with sensitive McLaren and Ferrari data that was supposed to be censored left visible.

Photos: Daimler | FIA

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