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Home > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report


McLaren may accept record fine

September 15, 2007 17:46 IST

McLaren may be willing to take a $100 million hit in the interests of Formula One, team boss Ron Dennis said on Saturday.

The record fine and loss of all McLaren's 2007 constructors' points were imposed by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) on Thursday at a hearing into a spying controversy.

The team have been under a cloud since a 780 page dossier of Ferrari [Images] technical information was found at the home of their now-suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan in July.

"If we do not appeal this, it will be because we want closure," Dennis told reporters at the Belgian Grand Prix.

"The other teams I hope will understand the financial penalty we will swallow in the interests of the sport."

McLaren say they did not gain any competitive advantage from the Ferrari data. However, the hearing in Paris heard how double world champion Fernando Alonso [Images] and test driver Pedro de la Rosa were aware Coughlan was getting information from inside Ferrari.

Dennis has six days in which to appeal and he said he would make a recommendation to the McLaren shareholders, who would then have the final say.

"COMPLETE CLOSURE"

Dennis was wary of the prospect of months, if not years, of legal argument ahead and the accompanying distraction to the team management. He said any decision against an appeal must not be interpreted as an admission of guilt.

"I don't want to drag this thing on if I can get closure," said Dennis.

"And closure is for Formula One. It has to be complete closure," he added, asked about the prospect of legal action by Ferrari rumbling on in the Italian courts for years to come.

The Italian team have taken action against former employee Nigel Stepney, who is accused of leaking the dossier to Coughlan earlier this year.

Italian police notified Dennis and other McLaren managers at Monza last weekend that they are under investigation, while Coughlan faces legal action in England [Images].

The $100 million fine will be minus any prize money that would have come to the team, and that alone could effectively halve the size of any cheque payable.

McLaren, 40 percent owned by DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes and one of the wealthiest teams in the paddock, are debt-free despite having spent in the region of $600 million on their state-of-the-art Woking factory.

Annual turnover is roughly $450-500 million.

"There is not more than one other team in the pit lane ... who can take a $100 million hit," said Dennis. "At the end of the day, we can swallow it."

© 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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