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Home > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report


F1 spy probe: Alonso defends his actions

September 08, 2007 16:31 IST

McLaren's Fernando Alonso [Images] says he had a moral obligation to give Formula One's governing body the information they were looking for in a spy probe that threatens his team's title hopes.

"I only see one option and that is to support this investigation and give them what they ask for," the double world champion was quoted as saying in Spain's AS sports newspaper on Saturday.

"When the highest authority in a sport asks you to co-operate, there's nothing you can object to. You've no choice," the 26-year-old added.

"I can't race thinking that I didn't act correctly. There are moral reasons that tie me to my sport," he told Spanish reporters at the Italian Grand Prix.

"I can't hide information that could be revealed by others and run the risk that the FIA accuses me of hiding information, and sanctioning me.

"The only thing I have done is met a moral obligation and responded to what the FIA asked of me. I won't start judging what I've sent them. They should decide this."

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) revealed on Friday that it had written to Alonso, championship leading team mate Lewis Hamilton [Images] and McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa last week seeking information in a spy saga that has gripped the glamour sport.

DRIVER AMNESTY

McLaren suspended their chief designer Mike Coughlan in July after 780 pages of Ferrari [Images] technical information were found at his home in England [Images].

Ferrari suspect the information was sent to him by their now-dismissed employee Nigel Stepney, although the Briton has denied the accusation.

The FIA letter effectively promised the McLaren drivers an amnesty from prosecution if they cooperated while threatening "serious consequences" if they withheld information.

The FIA has not confirmed receiving replies from the drivers but said on Wednesday that it had new evidence and was reconvening its World Motor Sport Council, the sport's top authority, in Paris on September 13.

A first hearing in July decided not to impose any sanction on McLaren, who have denied incorporating any Ferrari information into their car, because of insufficient proof that they had benefited from the data.

However, McLaren were warned then that they could be kicked out of this and next year's championship if new evidence emerged to change that assessment.

McLaren are currently 11 points clear of Ferrari, with Alonso five adrift of 22-year-old British rookie Lewis Hamilton.

The Spaniard, who joined McLaren at the end of last year after two successive championships with Renault, has been uncomfortable in his new surroundings and has also been linked to a possible return to Renault.

There has been considerable speculation about the nature and source of the new evidence, with media reports alluding to an e-mail exchange between Alonso and De la Rosa that could include a reference to Coughlan.

FIA president Max Mosley referred in his letter to "an allegation that one or more McLaren drivers may be in possession, or that such drivers have recently been in possession, of written evidence".

"In the interests of the sport and the championship it is important that the FIA as the regulator establishes unequivocally and rapidly whether or not this allegation has any basis in fact," he said.

The source of the allegation was not known.

© 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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