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    McLaren Busted Again !

    2008 McLaren F1 car scrutinized and rejected by FIA. Ferrari technology found in its design. FIA investigated and taking McLaren into court.

    From The Times...

    Lewis Hamilton's hopes of becoming Formula One world champion face a Valentine's Day massacre even before his 2008 car turns a wheel to start the new season. The FIA, Formula One's governing body, has called his McLaren team to a court hearing on February 14, a month before the first race of next season, after investigators are understood to have found potentially illegal traces of Ferrari influence in the car that Hamilton is scheduled to use.

    The hearing will be the motor racing equivalent of a people's court, with the rest of the teams called to listen to the evidence in this latest twist in the so-called Spygate saga that has engulfed Formula One this year. The other ten team principals could influence whether McLaren are punished again or whether they are allowed to race.

    McLaren knew that the designs for the car they planned to give Hamilton next year were under scrutiny after being fined $100 million (about Pounds50 million) for being in possession of a dossier of Ferrari secrets passed to Mike Coughlan, the team's former chief designer, by Nigel Stepney, then the chief mechanic at Ferrari. The FIA gave warning that it would be checking whether there was any trace of Ferrari's components or ideas in the 2008 McLaren, with the threat of more punishment hanging over the team - possibly expulsion from next year's championship.

    Teams of forensic computer experts and lawyers have combed through McLaren's files and designs and interviewed staff, as well as putting the car through a series of stringent checks in an operation on a scale unheard of in Formula One. Legal bills and the cost of hiring the forensic detectives have run to hundreds of thousands of pounds, according to FIA sources.

    Max Mosley, the FIA president, refused to confirm whether McLaren had drawn on ideas contained in the 780-page dossier that Stepney handed to Coughlan. He said: "We have received a report which makes it necessary to have another hearing." But it seems that there was enough doubt to force McLaren to defend themselves in what could become a crucial moment in the 2008 season, even before the Formula One drivers have started their engines for the first time in anger at the Australian Grand Prix, in Melbourne on March 16.

    McLaren strenuously denied that there was any influence from the Ferrari documents in their new car. Martin Whitmarsh, the managing director of McLaren, said last night: "We are confident our car has not been tainted by the intellectual property of any other team."

    McLaren still have two months to eradicate any areas that could be identified as illegal by the FIA, but that would be a huge setback for a team who will have scheduled the design and build timescale of their new car down to the last minute. Coming up with innovative designs or making fresh components could mean that staff at McLaren's headquarters in Woking, Surrey, can expect to miss their Christmas turkey as they work around the clock to have the car ready for testing in the new year.

    In all, this has been a bad week for the British team, to top off a bad year that had promised so much. Hamilton's emergence as the most exciting youngster to enter Formula One in a generation was quickly overshadowed by the allegations that McLaren were in possession of the Ferrari dossier containing crucial information on how the Scuderia worked. Two court hearings later, McLaren were handed a record fine and had their results from 2007 wiped from the records of the constructors' championship, while the reputations of Ron Dennis, the team principal, and his senior staff were damaged.

    There was no relief over the past two days in Monaco, where the FIA's World Motor Sport Council sat in judgment. On Thursday, Renault were found guilty of being in possession of McLaren designs, but escaped punishment. McLaren had brought the case to the FIA, but even then the tables turned on them. McLaren's accusations that Renault possessed more than 780 pages of technical drawings and information on the team's 2006 and 2007 cars turned out to be inaccurate - there were only four technical drawings - forcing the team into an embarrassing climbdown on the eve of the hearing.

    Asked why McLaren would make such extravagant claims, particularly about a document that coincidentally appeared to have the same number of pages as the Ferrari dossier, Mosley said: "It is speculation that it was an attempt to make the Renault affair look similar to the Ferrari affair because the 780 pages of drawings were pure fiction. To put it bluntly, it was a barefaced lie."

    That stinging rebuke almost summed up the way the "Spygate" saga has unfolded for McLaren, who had hoped that they would leave Monaco last night finally with a line drawn under the affair. Today, they know they are still in a battle for their reputation and their right to race.



    Re: McLaren Busted Again !

    fing get rid of them.. i never liked McLaren... they've always been stupid about privaciy issues and then they were the ones bringing in huge blinds in the pits which just looked stupid. stupid team, i hope they done now and we can get a serious team a new chance in F1. F1 really is fukced now

    Re: McLaren Busted Again !

    I think the time has come where Mercedes has to let Ron Dennis go from the team. Otherwise this will end up in tears and Mercedes can't afford that.


    Re: McLaren Busted Again !

    Wasn't mercees trying to buy out McLaren.
    Maybe they re the ones driving all this preassure from behind the curtains to get Dennis to sell?

    Re: McLaren Busted Again !

    Mercedes as a corporate entity cannot put up with this for much longer, whether McLaren is at fault or the FIA is on a witchhunt due to Mosley's personal dislike of Dennis, which he does nothing to hide.

    If this continues I predict McLaren will be driven out of the sport by Mosley. Like them or dislike them it will be a sad end for a team that has been around since the 1960s and had many great champions over the years.

    Re: McLaren Busted Again !

    I still remenber Ron Dennis cry on the tv and saying that they haved copied anything from Ferrari...

    Re: McLaren Busted Again !

    With the revolving door of people moving from team to team that is F1, wouldn't it be easier for F1 to be a spec series? With as thick as the FIA rules books is, it is very difficult to be completely original. And if you were, you would probably run afoul of the rules somewhere. This continuing battle of ego's certainly has not elevated the status of the participants.



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