The FIA published a lengthy statement on September 14th which included some of the key elements that the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) considered in its meeting that led to McLaren being stripped of its constructors' points and fined $100 ...
The FIA published a lengthy statement on September 14th which included some of the key elements that the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) considered in its meeting that led to McLaren being stripped of its constructors' points and fined $100 million. The much-speculated about emails between Fernando Alonso and test driver Pedro de la Rosa played a prominent part.
As before, the FIA did not clarify how it came to find out about the emails; the sport's governing body only stated that it had been "made aware of specific allegation that e-mails relevant to the FIA's investigation had been exchanged between certain McLaren drivers." All three drivers were contacted and asked to provide any relevant documents.
Lewis Hamilton did not have anything to contribute but Alonso and de la Rosa submitted emails along with written statements to provide context and explanations. The FIA judged that both drivers received Ferrari information from McLaren designer Mike Coughlan and were aware that the information was confidential and had been passed to Coughlan by ex-Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney.
According to the email transcripts, significant ones dated late March, de la Rosa asked Coughlan about the "Red Car's" weight distribution so he could try it in the simulator. De la Rosa confirmed in his given evidence that Coughlan had replied by text message with details of the weight distribution.
De la Rosa emailed Alonso with data about the weight distribution of Ferrari's cars as set up for the Australian Grand Prix and a discussion followed comparing McLaren and Ferrari's weight distribution. De la Rosa specifically said that the information was reliable as it came from Stepney, who was "very friendly" with Coughlan.
De la Rosa told the WMSC meeting that he decided not to test Ferrari's weight distribution in the simulator because it was so different from McLaren's and "thereafter he regarded the information as unimportant." The WMSC deemed it "highly unlikely" that a test driver would make that kind of decision on his own and questioned why he discussed the information with Alonso if he found it unimportant.
Other information relating to Ferrari was also discussed by de la Rosa and Alonso and de la Rosa and Coughlan, including wing configurations, a specific type of gas that Ferrari apparently used to inflate its tyres to reduce the internal temperatures and blistering, brake systems and Ferrari race strategy relating to pit stops.
The WMSC said that the evidence presented to it in the previous meeting suggested that only limited contact had been made between Coughlan and Stepney but the new evidence "demonstrates that a far greater level of communication existed between Coughlan and Stepney than was appreciated at the 26 July WMSC meeting."
Ferrari submitted evidence of numerous telephone calls, texts and emails between the two, from early March to early July, evidence that the WMSC deemed credible as it was provided by the Italian police. The emails exchanged between de la Rosa and Alonso was taken as evidence that the Ferrari information was passed to other team members.
"In the absence of another explanation, in light of the number and timing of the communications between Coughlan and Stepney and the e-mail exchanges between the McLaren drivers, the WMSC regards it as reasonable to infer that Coughlan was in receipt of a flow of confidential Ferrari information from Stepney and that at least some of that information was communicated to others within McLaren (e.g. Mr. de la Rosa and Mr. Alonso)," the statement said.
The WMSC said that it did not have evidence that any complete Ferrari design was copied and incorporated into the McLaren car as a result of this exchange of information but "it is difficult to accept that the secret Ferrari information that was within Coughlan's knowledge never influenced his judgement in the performance of his duties."
McLaren's engineering director Paddy Lowe submitted evidence to the WMSC meeting saying that the Ferrari information found in the possession of Coughlin was not of use or interest to McLaren as Ferrari's car was significantly different to the MP4-22. The WMSC did not accept that, as in its experience F1 teams are always interested in what others are doing and the information Coughlan had was "highly significant".
McLaren claimed that no Ferrari information had been used in its car and suggested that unless the WMSC could prove "actual use" and a gained performance advantage, no penalty should be given. The WMSC rejected that suggestion. It believes that the amount of information Coughlan possesed was received in a systematic manner, was shared to some degree within the team (de la Rosa and Alonso) and was intended by him to give McLaren sporting advantage.
The WMSC concluded that McLaren was in breach of the sporting regulations and punished the team with the fine and the loss of constructors' points. The full transcript of the WMSC proceedings and decisions can be found on the FIA website, www.fia.com