The FIA yesterday released to to the world that McLaren Formula One Team will not have any penalty imposed onto them for the possession of confidential Ferrari Formula One Team files – However McLaren have been warned that if any evidence comes to light then they could be excluded from championships.
The motorsport governing body said that although McLarens suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan had access to Ferraris confidential files – There was no way to prove that McLaren benefited at all from it.
“The WMSC is satisfied that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was in possession of confidential Ferrari information and is therefore in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code,” said an FIA statement.
“However, there is insufficient evidence that this information was used in such a way as to interfere improperly with the FIA Formula One World Championship.
“We therefore impose no penalty.”
The FIA said it would summon McLaren again if it subsequently emerged that the team had made use of the data – and threatened draconian penalties in that event.
“But if it is found in the future that the Ferrari information has been used to the detriment of the championship, we reserve the right to invite Vodafone McLaren Mercedes back in front of the WMSC where it will face the possibility of exclusion from not only the 2007 championship but also the 2008 championship,” it said.
The FIA spotlight will now turn to Coughlan and Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney, the other figure at the centre of the scandal.
Stepney is believed to be the source of the Ferrari data found at Coughlan’s house.
He was sacked by Ferrari after an investigation into his actions, and is the subject of a criminal case in Italy.
Shortly after the scandal broke, it emerged that Stepney and Coughlan had made a joint approach to Honda and were interested in joining the team’s staff.
The FIA confirmed that it intends to pursue action against the two men.
“The WMSC will also invite Mr Stepney and Mr Coughlan to show reason why they should not be banned from international motor sport for a lengthy period and the WMSC has delegated authority to deal with this matter to the legal department of the FIA,” said its statement.
(Most of this post is copyright to ITV)