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[ISN] Formula One team McLaren fined $100 million in spying scandal


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 
Grand Prix.

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 
not attend.

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 
this investigation.

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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