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Ferrari: lack of McLaren penalty ‘incomprehensible’ 26 Jul 2007

Jean Todt (FRA) Ferrari Sporting Director and Legal Representative arrive. FIA World Motor Sport Council Hearing, Place de la Concorde, Paris, France, 26 July 2007. © FIA

Ferrari have hit out at the FIA’s decision not to punish McLaren after the British team were found in breach of the International Sporting Code for possessing confidential documents belonging to their Italian rivals.

The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council opted not to impose a penalty as it could find no evidence that McLaren had made use of the data, which was found in the hands of the team’s chief designer, Mike Coughlan.

Ferrari, however, said they found it “incomprehensible that violating the fundamental principle of sporting honesty does not have, as a logical and inevitable consequence, the application of a sanction,” and added that they believe the decision “legitimises dishonest behaviour in Formula One and sets a very serious precedent.”

In a statement issued after Thursday’s hearing, Ferrari continued: “The decision of the World Council signifies that possession, knowledge at the very highest level and use of highly confidential information acquired in an illicit manner and the acquiring of confidential information over the course of several months, represent violations that do not carry any punishment.

“The fact that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was in possession of such information was discovered totally by accident and, but for this, the team would continue to have it. This is all the more serious as it has occurred in a sport like Formula One in which small details make all the difference. Ferrari feels this is highly prejudicial to the credibility of the sport.”

Ferrari added that they will continue with the legal action already under way within the Italian criminal justice system. The team are understood to be pursuing cases against both Coughlan and sacked Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney, who is alleged to have provided the material in question. Both men have also been summoned to appear before the FIA.