Motor racing-Stepney calm after meeting Italy magistrate

MILAN Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:25pm GMT

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MILAN Feb 18 (Reuters) - Former Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney told reporters he was "very calm" after being interviewed on Monday by an Italian magistrate probing last year's Formula One spying scandal.

The Briton, sacked by Ferrari, is accused of supplying technical information about the Italian team to McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, who is now suspended.

McLaren were stripped of their 2007 constructors' points and fined $100 million in September by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) but legal probes into the controversy continue, with Modena prosecutor Giuseppe Tibis weighing up the evidence.

Tibis said Stepney had been "collaborative and thorough".

Stepney's lawyer Sonia Bartolini said her client did have contact with Coughlan but had denied passing on the information. She told reporters other people have not been investigated enough in the affair.

World champions Ferrari have also accused Stepney of attempted sabotage after a mysterious white powder was allegedly found around the fuel caps of their cars before the Monaco Grand Prix in May last year.

McLaren bosses, including team principal Ron Dennis, were also due to meet with Tibis on Monday but their appearance has been postponed to another date.

Tibis has already interviewed McLaren's former driver Fernando Alonso, the double world champion who left for Renault in December, and Spanish test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

(Writing by Mark Meadows, editing by Alan Baldwin)

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