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Renault await fate as McLaren clarify ‘spying’ claims 06 Dec 2007

Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault R27 leads Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Renault R27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 6 October 2007 Flavio Briatore (ITA) Renault F1 Managing Director with Ron Dennis (GBR) McLaren Team Principal  in the Press Conference
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, 19 October 2007 Flavio Briatore (ITA) Renault F1 Managing Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 24 August 2007 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 21 October 2007

Renault will appear before the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council in Monaco on Thursday to answer allegations that the team had unauthorised possession of confidential data belonging to McLaren.

Renault have been charged with breaching Article 151c of the International Sporting Code and have admitted ownership of the information, alleged to include details of the 2007 McLaren’s fuelling system, gear assembly, oil cooling system and hydraulic control system.

According to Renault, the data was briefly uploaded onto the team’s computers at the request of engineer Phil Mackereth, who joined from McLaren in September 2006. Renault say the information was erased as soon as it came to the attention of technical management and that it had no influence on the design of the team’s car. Mackereth was subsequently suspended.

However, in their evidence McLaren are expected to claim that the data taken from the team was knowingly, deliberately and widely disseminated and discussed within Renault’s design and engineering team.

In a statement released by McLaren late on Wednesday to correct factual errors in a previous press briefing, the team claim that 13 Renault F1 employees have provided 18 witness statements and that nine of those 13 have admitted viewing and discussing the confidential information.

McLaren say the data taken by Mackereth on 11 computer discs was the equivalent of 762 pages of hard copy and included 18 individual technical drawings. They say he has also admitted taking hard-copy drawings of the team’s dampers.

In combination McLaren claim the data constitutes “a technical definition of the fundamental layout of the 2007 McLaren car and the technical details of its innovative and performance enhancing systems”.

Earlier this year, McLaren were stripped of their 2007 constructors’ points and fined $100 million after being found guilty of similar charge. The team were deemed to have benefitted from possession of confidential Ferrari documentation and could yet face further penalty if their 2008 car does not meet with FIA approval.