Wednesday, September 19, 2007
An eventful week in the world of Formula 1. McLaren have been excluded from the 2007 constructors’ championship and fined US$100 million following last Thursday’s FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) hearing in Paris. Drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have not been penalized and are free to continue their fight for the drivers’ title. The penalty follows McLaren’s admission that the team was in breach of the International Sporting Code through their possession of confidential technical data belonging to rivals Ferrari. McLaren are also required to submit detailed plans of their 2008 car to the FIA, who warned that it could apply further sanctions relating to next season should any irregularities be found in the car’s design. A number of McLaren employees - including Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso - knew about the team’s unauthorised possession of confidential Ferrari information, and some intended to use that information in the team’s own testing. The findings contradict previous claims from McLaren that the Ferrari data had not spread beyond suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan, who allegedly received it from former Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney. In its judgement, the Council cites evidence of ongoing communications between Coughlan and Stepney, as well as between Coughlan and McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa, who the FIA claim requested and received secret Ferrari information from a source which he knew to be illegitimate and shared that information with world champion Fernando Alonso. The emails covered topics such as the weight distribution and braking system of Ferrari’s car, a flexible rear wing design and a gas used by the Italian team to inflate its tyres. They also suggested that Stepney had fed Coughlan real-time information on Ferrari’s pit stop strategy in this year’s Australian Grand Prix.