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FIA releases full WMSC judgement on McLaren 14 Sep 2007

FIA Flag as the grid girls practice their routine.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang, Malaysia, 22 March 2003 Mike Coughlan (GBR) McLaren Designer. Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, 17 January 2007. World © Sutton Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren arrives at the hearing. FIA World Council Hearing, FIA, Place de la Concorde, Paris, France, 13 September 2007. World © Bumstead/Sutton Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren is interviewed.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 14 September 2007

Coughlan, De la Rosa, Alonso shared data obtained from Stepney

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.

That was among the findings of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council (WMSC), which published its full judgement on Friday afternoon following its decision to strip McLaren of their 2007 constructors' points and fine the team $100 million.

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.

Emails between Coughlan, de la Rosa and Alonso formed part of the new evidence that prompted Thursday’s second hearing into the affair. July’s original hearing had found McLaren in breach of the International Sporting Code, but had not sanctioned the team due to lack of evidence.

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.

According to the Council, “The e-mails show unequivocally that both Mr. Alonso and Mr. de la Rosa received confidential Ferrari information via Coughlan; that both drivers knew that this information was confidential Ferrari information and that both knew that the information was being received by Coughlan from Stepney.”. In submitting their evidence, de la Rosa and Alonso were granted immunity from any personal sanctions.

The other new evidence related to communications between Coughlan and Stepney, which, according to reports from the Italian police, was of a far greater level than the Council had previously thought, leading it to conclude that Coughlan “was in receipt of a flow of confidential Ferrari information from Stepney.”

According to the Council, the new evidence makes clear that:

"...Coughlan had more information than previously appreciated and was receiving information in a systematic manner over a period of months;
- the information has been disseminated, at least to some degree (e.g. to Mr. de la Rosa and Mr. Alonso), within the McLaren team;
- the information being disseminated within the McLaren team included not only highly sensitive technical information but also secret information regarding Ferrari’s sporting strategy;
- Mr de la Rosa, in the performance of his functions at McLaren, requested and received secret Ferrari information from a source which he knew to be illegitimate and expressly stated that the purpose of his request was to run tests in the simulator;
- the secret information in question was shared with Mr. Alonso;
- there was a clear intention on the part of a number of McLaren personnel to use some of the Ferrari confidential information in its own testing. If this was not in fact carried into effect it was only because there were technical reasons not to do so;
- Coughlan’s role within McLaren (as now understood by the WMSC) put him in a position in which his knowledge of the secret Ferrari information would have influenced him in the performance of his duties."

The Council concluded that “some degree of sporting advantage was obtained, though it may forever be impossible to quantify that advantage in concrete terms.”

For the full transcript of the Council’s judgement, click here .