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Renault say no McLaren data in their cars
Alan Baldwin | November 10, 2007 09:25 IST
Former champions Renault hit back at allegations of spying on Friday, saying their cars were untainted by any data from Formula One rivals McLaren.
They also said that a former McLaren engineer who joined them in September last year had been suspended as soon as they became aware that he had brought confidential technical information with him.
Renault were summoned on Thursday to appear before a hearing of the governing body in Monaco on December 6 to answer a charge of unauthorised possession of McLaren data.
Mercedes-powered McLaren were themselves stripped of all their constructors' points this season and fined $100 million for having highly sensitive Ferrari [Images] information.
Renault named their suspended employee as Phil Mackereth and said they had been made aware of the problem on September 6, the Thursday before the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
It said the information had been "contained on old-style floppy discs and included copies of some McLaren engineering drawings and some technical spreadsheets.
"This information was loaded at the request of Mr Mackereth onto his personal directory on the Renault F1 Team file system," it added.
"This was done without the knowledge of anyone in authority in the team."
Renault said the information had been cleansed from the computer systems as soon as the matter was brought to their attention and a formal investigation started.
McLaren and the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) were kept fully informed throughout while the discs were impounded and returned to McLaren via lawyers.
"Our formal investigation showed that early in his employment with Renault, Mr Mackereth made some of our engineers aware of parts of this information in the form of a few reduced scale engineering drawings," the team said.
"These drawings covered four basic systems as used by McLaren and were: the internal layout of the fuel tank, the basic layout of the gear clusters, a tuned mass damper and a suspension damper.
"Subsequent witness statements from the engineers involved have categorically stated that, having been briefly shown these drawings, none of this information was used to influence design decisions relating to the Renault car."
Renault won both the constructors' and drivers' championships in 2006 but lost performance mid-season after the FIA banned their mass damper system.
Renault said the McLaren drawing of the mass damper had no value because the system had been declared illegal before Mackereth joined.
"The suspension damper drawing hinted that the McLaren design might be similarly considered illegal and a subsequent clarification from the FIA confirmed this based upon our crude interpretation of the concept," it said.
The French team, who failed to win a race this season, said they had cooperated fully with both McLaren and the FIA and were confident in the outcome of the hearing.
They had also invited McLaren's independent experts to assess the team's computer systems and inspect the cars and design records "to demonstrate that this unfortunate incident has not in any way influenced the design of the cars."
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