McLaren appeared before an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) on July 26th and it was decided that although the team was deemed to be in possession of Ferrari information, there was insufficient evidence to prove that it...
McLaren appeared before an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) on July 26th and it was decided that although the team was deemed to be in possession of Ferrari information, there was insufficient evidence to prove that it had affected the championship. Therefore the WMSC did not impose any penalty on McLaren.
However, if any new evidence comes to light in the future to show that McLaren have gained an advantage from using the Ferrari data the Woking squad will have to face the WMSC again and could be banned from not only this year's championship but from 2008 as well.
"The WMSC is satisfied that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was in possession of confidential Ferrari information and is therefore in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code," read an FIA statement. "However, there is insufficient evidence that this information was used in such a way as to interfere improperly with the FIA Formula One World Championship. We therefore impose no penalty."
"But if it is found in the future that the Ferrari information has been used to the detriment of the championship, we reserve the right to invite Vodafone McLaren Mercedes back in front of the WMSC where it will face the possibility of exclusion from not only the 2007 championship but also the 2008 championship."
One representative of the WMSC was quoted as saying that without proof of McLaren actually using the Ferrari data there was simply nothing that could be done. McLaren said it was "delighted" by the WMSC decision and maintained that one individual was solely responsible for the possession of information and the team had no knowledge of it.
"There is no doubt that the past 24 days have been challenging and the tremendous support we have received from our sponsor partners and the public has been much appreciated," said principal Ron Dennis. "Moving forward McLaren wants to re-affirm our long-standing commitment to honesty and integrity and re-state that we believe we have acted correctly throughout."
Ferrari is unhappy that McLaren escaped penalty despite being in breach of the sporting regulations. "(Ferrari) therefore finds it incomprehensible that violating the fundamental principle of sporting honesty does not have, as a logical and inevitable consequence, the application of a sanction. Today's decision legitimises dishonest behaviour in Formula 1 and sets a very serious precedent," the Scuderia stated.
The main figures in the case, former Ferrari engineering chief Nigel Stepney and McLaren designer Mike Coughlan also face a ban from the sport. Stepney reportedly provided Coughlan with the Ferrari information that was found during a search of Coughlan's house. Stepney was sacked by Ferrari and Coughlan suspended from McLaren when the news broke.
The pair will now be called upon to explain their involvement in the affair. "The WMSC will also invite Mr Stepney and Mr Coughlan to show reason why they should not be banned from international motor sport for a lengthy period and the WMSC has delegated authority to deal with this matter to the legal department of the FIA," the statement concluded.