Thursday, July 12, 2007

McLaren to answer FIA spy charges

Lewis Hamilton's McLaren leading Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari at the French Grand Prix

McLaren and Ferrari have a rivalry going a long way back

McLaren have been summoned by Formula One's governing body, the FIA, to face charges of breaking the sport's rules.

The team are embroiled in a spying row following claims their chief designer Mike Coughlan illegally received information from rivals Ferrari.

McLaren face charges at a 26 July hearing of "unauthorised possession of documents and confidential information belonging to Ferrari".

Coughlan has already agreed to tell Ferrari how he got hold of the data.

Following an internal investigation, the FIA has called McLaren to answer charges of breaching Article 151c of the International Sporting Code.

That rules relates to, "any fraudulent conduct, or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition, or to the interests of motor sport generally".

I can comfortably say this will not end in anything that causes McLaren any embarrassment

McLaren boss Ron Dennis

In a statement the FIA said the information, "could be used to design, engineer, build, check, test, develop and/or run a 2007 Ferrari Formula One car."

Coughlan was suspended last week by McLaren after a 780-page dossier of Ferrari design information was found in his house.

Ferrari have accused Coughlan and his wife Trudy of stealing that information.

A hearing at the High Court on Wednesday was cancelled when Coughlan agreed to provide an affidavit to explain how he acquired the documents.

McLaren team boss, Ron Dennis, has maintained the team's innocence throughout and is confident the FIA would clear them of any wrongdoing.

Speaking at last weekend's British Grand Prix, Dennis said: "I can categorically state there are no developments whatsoever that have occurred on our cars relating to this.

"I can comfortably say this will not end in anything that causes McLaren any embarrassment."

If McLaren are found guilty the FIA has the power to expel the team from the championship or deduct points.

McLaren's British rookie Lewis Hamilton leads team-mate Fernando Alonso by 12 points in the drivers' standings while McLaren have a 25-point lead over Ferrari in the constructors' race.

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