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FIA letter puts McLaren drivers in 'spy scandal' spotlight 07 Sep 2007

Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 6 September 2007 Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Test Driver talks with Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 24 August 2007

The McLaren-Ferrari ‘spy scandal’ took another twist at Monza on Friday when details emerged of a letter sent last week by FIA President Max Mosley to McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso, Pedro de la Rosa and Lewis Hamilton.

“The FIA has been made aware of an allegation that one or more McLaren drivers may be in possession, or that such drivers have recently been in possession, of written evidence relevant to this investigation,” said the letter, in which Mosley goes on to ask the drivers to produce details of any such documents.

It follows the FIA’s decision earlier this week to stage a fresh hearing into the circumstances surrounding McLaren’s possession of confidential Ferrari data after the emergence of new evidence. McLaren escaped sanction in the original hearing where the World Motor Sport Council decided there was no proof the team had made use of the data.

In his letter, Mosley specifically requests that the McLaren drivers forward details of any electronic communications that mention or involve Ferrari, or the Italian team’s former engineer Nigel Stepney, who has denied allegations that he was the source of the leaked information.

Mosley also stresses that in doing so, the drivers would not face any proceedings under the International Sporting Code or the Formula One regulations, but warns that witholding any information could result in serious consequences.

The nine Formula One teams not directly involved in the case are also understood to have received an official request from the FIA for any pertinent information.

The full FIA letter to the McLaren drivers:

31 August 2007

Dear Mr De La Rosa

As you will be aware, the FIA has recently investigated whether, how and to what extent McLaren was in possession of confidential Ferrari technical information. The FIA has subsequently been made aware of an allegation that one or more McLaren drivers may be in possession, or that such drivers have recently been in possession, of written evidence relevant to this investigation.

In the interests of the sport and the Championship it is important that the FIA as the regulator establishes unequivocally and rapidly whether or not this allegation has any basis in fact.

The FIA therefore formally requests that you produce copies of any relevant documents which may be in your possession or power of procurement and which may be relevant to this case. For these purposes “documents” includes all written materials such as emails, letters, electronic communications, text messages, notes, memoranda, drawings, diagrams, data,. or other material, stored in any physical, “hard copy” or electronic form. In particular (though without limiting the generality of this request), the FIA wishes to receive copies of any electronic communications (howsoever conveyed or stored) which may be relevant to this case and which make reference to Ferrari, Nigel Stepney or any technical or other information coming from or connected with either Ferrari or Mr Stepney. In the event that you are aware of the existence or previous existence of any document falling within the above description but are not in a position to produce it, please describe the content of the document in question, the circumstances under which it came to your knowledge and the reasons why you are unable to produce it. In the event that you are unsure as to whether any document falls within the above description, kindly submit it (or a description of it) and the FIA will assist in making a determination.

You will appreciate that there is a duty on all competitors and Super Licence holders to ensure the fairness and legitimacy of the Formula One World Championship. It is therefore imperative that if you do have any such information, you make it available to us without delay. I can confirm, given the importance of this issue, that any information you may make available in response to this letter will not result in any proceedings against you under the International Sporting Code or the Formula One regulations. However, in the event that it later comes to light that you have withheld any potentially relevant information, serious consequences could follow.

We are sending identical letters to Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. Thank you very much for your co-operation.

Yours sincerely

Max Mosley