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Home > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report

F1 closes McLaren spy saga

December 19, 2007 11:15 IST

Lewis Hamilton's [Images] McLaren team can look forward to next season without the threat of a further points penalty after Formula One's governing body formally closed a spy controversy on Tuesday.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement that its World Motor Sport Council had agreed to cancel a Paris hearing scheduled for February 14 to assess McLaren's 2008 car.

FIA president Max Mosley proposed the cancellation last Thursday after McLaren apologised for having Ferrari [Images] data in their possession and recognised that it had penetrated deeper into the team than suspected.

The hearing had been called after an FIA technical report raised suspicions that some of the systems in the 2008 McLaren design could be influenced by the leaked Ferrari information.

McLaren were stripped of all their constructors' points and fined $100 million this year for the spy saga and the February meeting had threatened to prolong the agony with the possibility of a further sanction.

The team, who saw rookie Hamilton lose the championship by a single point to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen [Images], have offered to freeze development of the suspect systems.

Ferrari have meanwhile agreed to close the controversy on a sporting level but are to continue legal action against individuals in Italy [Images] and Britain.

The 2008 season starts in Australia in March.

SECOND CONTROVERSY

McLaren were also involved in a second controversy when former champions Renault were found at a hearing this month to have had McLaren data in their possession since last year.

Renault, who failed to win a race in 2007, were not punished however because the FIA ruled there was insufficient evidence that the championship had been affected.

In a 77-page transcript of that hearing published on the FIA web site (www.fia.com), the French manufacturer argued that the case was one of simple stupidity rather than any deliberate intention to cheat.

They denied gaining any advantage and said former McLaren engineer Phil Mackereth, who took technical information with him when he joined Renault, had acted for personal reasons.

"His actions in this situation were stupidity, naivety and a degree of recklessness -- and little more than that," the transcript recorded Renault's technical director Bob Bell telling the hearing.

"There is no malevolence, there is no intention to deliberately do wrong or to cheat. That is not in his make-up."

Renault's lawyer described Mackereth, who appeared at the hearing, as being like "a rabbit in the headlights.

"He is a very unhappy, very guilty and very contrite man," he added.

© Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
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