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FIA summon McLaren in Ferrari 'spy' probe
July 12, 2007 18:24 IST
Formula One's governing body has charged championship leaders McLaren with unauthorised possession of confidential Ferrari [Images] information.
The International Automobile Federation said in a statement on Thursday that representatives of the team had been asked to appear before an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on July 26.
The FIA charged that, between March and July, McLaren had "unauthorised possession of documents and confidential information belonging to Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro".
The statement added that the information included data that could have been "used to design, engineer, build, check, test, develop and/or run a 2007 Ferrari Formula One car".
The FIA referred specifically to article 151c of the International Sporting Code, which refers to "any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally".
It did not spell out what possible sanctions McLaren could face if found guilty.
The team, with Spain's double world champion Fernando Alonso [Images] and British rookie Lewis Hamilton [Images], are 25 points clear of Ferrari in the constructors' championship at the halfway point in the season.
The announcement followed an investigation by the governing body after Ferrari revealed that a quantity of their information had been found at the home of a senior McLaren technical employee.
McLaren last week suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan, formally named in a High Court hearing in London [Images] on Tuesday.
The court heard that Coughlan had "behaved disgracefully" by copying and keeping the documents. A Ferrari spokesman said the case centred on two computer discs believed to contain 780 pages of information.
McLaren have denied that any of Ferrari's intellectual property was incorporated in their car.
"Speaking for our company, I'm sure we will be completely vindicated with the passing of time," McLaren boss Ron Dennis said at the British Grand Prix last weekend.
Ferrari are also taking legal action in Italy [Images] against their former engineer Nigel Stepney, who has denied sending the information to Coughlan.
The two, former colleagues at Benetton and Ferrari, were linked last week when Honda confirmed in a statement that they had approached team boss Nick Fry to discuss possible job opportunities.
The next race, at the Nuerburgring in Germany [Images] on July 22, is a home grand prix for McLaren's engine partners Mercedes.
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