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New evidence in F1 spy case
September 06, 2007 18:15 IST
Leaders McLaren faced a renewed threat of exclusion from the Formula One championship on Wednesday after the governing FIA said it has fresh evidence relating to a spying controversy with Ferrari [Images].
The International Automobile Federation said in a statement that they had reconvened their World Motor Sport Council, the FIA's top committee, for a hearing in Paris on September 13 to consider the development.
The meeting will replace an appeal hearing, called after the WMSC decided in July not to sanction McLaren for unauthorised possession of a significant quantity of Ferrari technical information.
The FIA said representatives of Mercedes-powered McLaren, who could be kicked out of both this year's and next year's championship if found guilty of cheating, have been invited.
McLaren said in a statement that they "had been made aware that new evidence had been presented to the FIA as part of their on-going investigation.
"McLaren will continue to co-operate fully with the FIA," they added.
Asked for more details of the new evidence, an FIA spokesman said the world body is "not in a position to make any comment at this stage."
McLaren are 11 points clear of Ferrari in the constructors' championship with five races remaining, including Ferrari's home Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Sunday.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton [Images] leads double world champion team mate Fernando Alonso [Images] by five points. Ferrari's Felipe Massa [Images] is 15 points behind Hamilton with team mate Kimi Raikkonen [Images] one point further adrift.
The spying saga erupted in July when some 780 pages of Ferrari information was found at the home of McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan.
McLaren, who immediately suspended Coughlan, have said none of it was used in the design of their car and nobody else at McLaren was aware of what he had in his possession.
Ferrari have taken legal action in Britain against Coughlan and in Italy [Images] against their former employee Nigel Stepney, whom they suspect of being the source of the leak.
The World Motor Sport Council said in July that while it was satisfied that McLaren was in unauthorised possession of the Ferrari data, there is insufficient evidence that they had used it to 'interfere improperly' with the championship.
However the governing body said at the time that the matter is not closed.
"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...McLaren 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.
Ferrari were incensed by the original verdict and FIA president Max Mosley had intervened to send the matter to the body's International Court of Appeal for the final say.
"The FIA President's referral of the matter to the International Court of Appeal has been withdrawn," the FIA said.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage