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[ISN] Formula One team McLaren fined $100 million in spying scandal
FREE PRESS NEWS SERVICES
September 13, 2007
The McLaren team was fined $100 million and stripped of its points in
the constructors standings Thursday in the spying scandal that has
rocked the sport
McLaren, which leads the current drivers and constructors standings, was
punished by the World Motor Sports Council for allegedly using leaked
secret technical documents belonging to F1 rival Ferrari.
Advertisement Team drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, currently
1-2 in the championship standings, were not punished and can continue to
compete for the season title.
Ferrari is satisfied that the truth has now emerged, the Italian team
said in a statement.
The $100 million penalty includes McLarens expected loss of income, and
McLaren still could be penalized for the 2008 championship, FIA said in
a statement after a hearing.
McLaren escaped the harshest possible penalty, as FIA could have kicked
the team and its drivers out of the 2007 and 2008 championships. In
December, FIA will decide on any possible sanctions against McLaren for
the 2008 season.
FIA said it did not penalize McLarens drivers due to exceptional
circumstances because they provided evidence in exchange for immunity.
We believe we have grounds for appeal, team chief Ron Dennis said. But
of course we are going to wait for the findings of the FIA which are
going to be published. The most important thing is that we go motor
racing this weekend, the rest of the season and next season.
The case broke open in July when a 780-page technical dossier on Ferrari
cars was found at the home of McLarens chief designer, Mike Coughlan,
who later was suspended. Ferrari mechanic Nigel Stepney, who allegedly
supplied the documents, was fired.
Rookie English driver Hamilton leads the standings with 92 points,
followed by two-time F1 champion Alonso of Spain with 89. Ferrari
teammates Kimi Raikkonen (74) and Felipe Massa (69) are third and
fourth. Four races remain in the season, starting with Sundays Belgian
Hamilton and Alonso finished 1-2 in Sundays Italian Grand Prix at
Ferraris home track of Monza to extend McLarens lead in the constructors
championship to 23 points. McLaren had 166, Ferrari 143.
Under Thursdays ruling, McLaren loses all its constructors points and is
ineligible from scoring any more in the seasons final races.
The World Motor Sport Council ruled in July that McLaren was guilty of
fraudulent conduct for possessing the Ferrari documents but did not
punish the team because there was insufficient evidence the material was
misused. However, the council warned that McLaren could be kicked out of
the 2007 and 2008 series if it is found in the future that the
information has been used to the detriment of the championship.
FIA announced last week it was calling a new hearing of the council
after new evidence had emerged.
Among those appearing at the hearing before the 26-member council were
Hamilton, Dennis and McLaren test driver Pedro De La Rosa. Alonso did
Others attending included Ross Brawn, Ferraris former technical
director, and team officials from Red Bull, Williams and Spyker.
FIA president Max Mosley sent letters to Alonso, Hamilton and De La Rosa
on Aug. 31, saying the sports regulator had been told that one or more
McLaren drivers may be in possession ... of written evidence relevant to
Mosley asked the three drivers to cooperate in the interests of the
sport and the championship and offered them amnesty in return. Mosley
also wrote that serious consequences would follow if they were later
found to have withheld any potentially relevant information.
The case against McLaren reportedly consists of a 166-page dossier that
includes e-mail exchanges between De la Rosa and Alonso, as well as
details of phone and text message traffic between Coughlan and Stepney
supplied to FIA by authorities in Italy.
Separately, McLaren was notified Saturday that it is being investigated
in a separate criminal inquiry in Italy. Dennis and five other team
personnel are reportedly under investigation.
Those allegations stem from Ferraris criminal case against Stepney for
allegedly placing a mysterious white powder on the gas tanks of the
teams cars before the Monaco GP, in a supposed sabotage attempt.
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