September 13, 2007 / 8:37 AM / 12 years ago

McLaren fined $100 mln in spying case

PARIS (Reuters) - Formula One leaders McLaren have been stripped of all their 2007 constructors’ points and fined $100 million (50 million pounds) in a spying controversy involving Ferrari information.

McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton arrives at the International Automobile Association (FIA) headquarters in Paris, September 13, 2007 before the hearing started into allegations that McLaren used leaked Ferrari data. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

However, the governing FIA ruled that the team’s championship leader Lewis Hamilton and Spain’s double world champion Fernando Alonso could keep their points in the drivers’ contest.

“The WMSC (World Motor Sports Council) has stripped Vodafone McLaren Mercedes of all constructors points in the 2007 FIA Formula One world championship and the team can score no points for the remainder of the season,” the FIA said.

“Furthermore the team will pay a fine equal to $100 million, less the FOM income lost as a result of the points deduction.”

Points gained by other teams so far this season would also not be affected, it added in a statement.

McLaren, one-two winners of last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza, were accused of having benefited from a dossier of Ferrari data found in the possession of now-suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan.

Asked by reporters whether justice had been done, the International Automobile Federation president Max Mosley answered: “Yes”.

The decision effectively ensures Ferrari the constructors’ championship but keeps a thrilling drivers’ battle alive.

McLaren were 23 points ahead of Ferrari, who are in turn 57 clear of BMW Sauber. Hamilton, the 22-year-old rookie sensation of the season, leads double world champion Alonso by three points with four races remaining.

PROVIDING EVIDENCE

The FIA said the drivers were not punished because they had been offered immunity in return for providing evidence.

It was not immediately clear how much the fine would ultimately be, but it was sure to be the biggest ever handed out in motorsport.

The previous record was $5 million handed out to the Turkish Grand Prix organisers last year for a podium ceremony controversy.

Team boss Ron Dennis said however that it could ultimately be closer to $50 million: “We have offset revenues which will probably halve the actual size of the cheque.

“We are a very strong company.”

The FIA said the motor sport council would receive a full technical report on the 2008 McLaren and will decide in December this year whether to impose any further sanction.

The statement added that “No McLaren representative will be allowed on the podium should a McLaren driver win in any of the remaining races of the 2007 season.”

It said full reasons for the decisions reached would be published on Friday.

McLaren were found guilty at a hearing in July of possession of unauthorised Ferrari material but escaped sanction after the WMSC ruled, to outrage in Italy, that there was insufficient evidence they had gained from it.

However, the team were warned then that they could be kicked out of this and next year’s championship if new evidence was brought to light.

Ferrari said in a statement at the Belgian Grand Prix that they were “satisfied that the truth has now emerged.”

However McLaren’s engine partners Mercedes suggested they would appeal, although Dennis said that was yet to be decided.

Slideshow (2 Images)

“We have to look carefully at the FIA findings before making this decision,” he said.

“The most important thing is that we are going to race this weekend, the rest of the season and the other seasons.”

Additional reporting and writing by Alan Baldwin in Spa-Francorchamps

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