McLaren fined over design leaks

Formula One team McLaren has been fined $100m (£49.6m) after being found guilty of fraudulent behaviour linked to its possession of confidential design documents belonging to Ferrari.

The FIA World Motor Sport Council’s finding relates to the confidential dossier, which was alleged to have been leaked by Ferrari’s head of performance development Nigel Stepney to McLaren’s chief designer Mike Coughlan. The team has also been thrown out of this year’s F1 constructors’ championship.

However, according to a statement by Ron Dennis, chairman and chief executive officer of the McLaren Group, he does not accept that the team deserved to be penalised in this way.

He said in a statement, ‘Today’s evidence given to the FIA by our drivers, engineers and staff clearly demonstrated that we did not use any leaked information to gain a competitive advantage. The entire engineering team provided statements to the FIA affirming that they had never received or used the Ferrari information.’

While Dennis accepted that the information from Ferrari was indeed in the personal possession of one of McLaren’s employees, he said the issue is whether this was used, and this was not the case.

He added, ‘We are also continually asked, “If McLaren didn’t use the information, what was the reason for Stepney and Coughlan collecting all this data about Ferrari?” We can only speculate, but we do know that they were both seeking employment with other teams, as already confirmed by both Honda and Toyota.’

According to a statement by Ferrari, ‘In light of new evidence, facts and behaviour of an extremely serious nature and grossly prejudicial to the interest of sport have been further demonstrated. Ferrari is satisfied that the truth has now emerged.’

In July, the FIA ruled that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ as to whether the material had been used. But, if the information was found to have been used McLaren could be excluded from this year’s championship.

Earlier that month, Coughlan was suspended by McLaren when documents were found in his house. Ferrari claimed that the designer and his wife had copies of its design secrets, allegedly passed on by Stepney, according to reports.

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