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McLaren await their fate in Paris hearing 13 Sep 2007

Ron Dennis (GBR) McLaren Team Principal arrives. FIA World Council Hearing, FIA, Place de la Concorde, Paris, France, 13 September 2007. World © Bumstead/Sutton Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren arrives. FIA World Council Hearing, FIA, Place de la Concorde, Paris, France, 13 September 2007. World © Bumstead/Sutton Ross Brawn (GBR) Ex- Ferrari Technical Director arrives at the hearing. FIA World Council Hearing, FIA, Place de la Concorde, Paris, France, 13 September 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Mike Coughlan (GBR) McLaren Designer. Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, 17 January 2007. World © Sutton Nigel Stepney (GBR) Ferrari Chief Mechanic.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 20 October 2006

It is the story that has dominated headlines and gripped the paddock, but after seemingly endless twists and turns, the McLaren-Ferrari ‘spy scandal’ is set to be resolved in Paris today, with a second hearing by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council.

The Council will consider new evidence in the case. Should that evidence prove McLaren made use of confidential Ferrari data in the development of their car, the team could face expulsion from the 2007 and 2008 world championships.

Along with senior management from both teams, among those attending the hearing are Ferrari's former technical director Ross Brawn, currently on sabbatical, and drivers' championship leader, Lewis Hamilton.

As the world's media awaits news from Paris, we look back at the timeline of an affair that could yet decide this year’s titles…

June, 2007
Reports claim that long-time Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney is under investigation by Italian authorities after an unspecified complaint is made against him by the team. Stepney protests his innocence, denying suggestions that he attempted to sabotage Ferrari’s cars at the Monaco Grand Prix.

July 3, 2007
Ferrari reveal Stepney has left the company after an ‘internal disciplinary procedure’.

July 4, 2007
Ferrari confirm they have presented a legal case against Stepney concerning the alleged theft of technical information. The team say a staff member from rivals McLaren is also involved in the investigation.

McLaren confirms the involvement, and suspension, of an unnamed employee - subsequently revealed as senior designer Mike Coughlan. After a full review of their cars, the team insist that no intellectual property from Ferrari has been used.

The FIA announces a formal investigation into the matter, with the full cooperation of both teams.

July 5, 2007
Ferrari admit it was a source outside of Formula One racing that tipped them off to the possibility of a McLaren having obtained their intellectual property.

July 6, 2007
Honda’s CEO Nick Fry reveals that Stepney and Coughlan paid a joint visit to the team in June, with ‘a view to investigating job opportunities’. Fry stresses that that no confidential information was offered or received during the meeting.

July 10-11, 2007
A hearing is held at London’s High Court with Ferrari lawyers and Coughlan in attendance. Reports cite allegations that the suspended designer and his wife submitted 780 pages of Ferrari documentation to a photocopy shop in Woking.

July 12, 2007
Ferrari confirm that Coughlan has provided them with an affidavit relating to the enquiry, but that both the designer and his wife remain the subject of a London High Court action by the team.

McLaren are summoned to appear before the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) to answer a charge of breaching the International Sporting Code by possessing confidential Ferrari data. The team maintain that no other staff members were aware of the material.

July 26, 2007
At the Paris hearing, the WMSC finds McLaren guilty of breaching the Sporting Code, but choose not to impose sanctions as there is no proof that the team made use of the data. However, McLaren are warned that if such proof later comes to light, they could face exclusion from the 2007 and 2008 championships. The WMSC also calls on Stepney and Coughlan to appear before the FIA.

Ferrari describe the decision not to punish McLaren as “incomprehensible” and vow to continue with legal action already underway against Stepney and Coughlan.

July 30, 2007
Ferrari boss Jean Todt claims Coughlan had access to leaked Ferrari data prior to the start of the 2007 season, and that it prompted McLaren’s subsequent request for FIA clarification over the use of ‘moveable’ floors.

July 31, 2007
FIA president Max Mosley refers the case to the International Court of Appeal following suggestions that the original WMSC hearing had not given Ferrari sufficient opportunity to present their version of events.

August 2, 2007
McLaren team principal Ron Dennis accuses Ferrari of winning the Australian Grand Prix with an illegal car and of manipulating media coverage to damage his team’s reputation.

August 7, 2007
The FIA sets a date for the appeal. The International Court of Appeal (ICA) will meet in Paris on Thursday, September 13.

September 5, 2007
A week before the appeal hearing, the FIA announces that “following the receipt of new evidence” the WMSC will instead reconvene to make a fresh judgment on the McLaren-Ferrari ‘spy scandal’.

September 7, 2007
The FIA reveals it has written to McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso, Pedro de la Rosa and Lewis Hamilton after allegations they may have information relevant to the case. They are warned that failure to disclose any such information could involve serious consequences. Lawyers advise McLaren to make no further comment ahead of the WMSC hearing.

September 8, 2007
Modena’s public prosecutor, Giuseppe Tibis, issues ‘avviso di garanzia’ - legal notice that someone is under investigation in a criminal procedure - to Stepney and six McLaren personnel, including Dennis, group managing director Martin Whitmarsh and Jonathan Neale, the team’s managing director.

September 13, 2007
The world awaits news from Paris…