What a bizzare turn of events… I suspect there must have been some behind the scenes talks between Mosley and McLaren, and the timing of both announcements seems to confirm my suspicion. I can’t believe I am saying this but it looks like Max Mosley has proven his case against McLaren… I must say the events of yesterday are perhaps even more shocking than the 100 million dollar fine imposed on McLaren… McLaren team that always denied use of any Ferrari data all of a sudden admits widespread use the information among their technical staff. And what more, the team even comes out with an apology to FIA and announces freeze on development of parts that might have been influenced by the information from Ferrari… Wow … This FIA McLaren Report explains things a bit. If what is in that report is indeed the real story, it shows that the information Coughlan obtained from Stepney was quite extensively used within McLaren, and moreover Coughlan’s role in the car development was much bigger than what McLaren previously admitted.
Here is the full statement from McLaren:
“As a result of the investigations carried out by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile it has become clear that Ferrari information was more widely disseminated within McLaren than was previously communicated. McLaren greatly regrets that its own investigations did not identify this material and has written to the World Motor Sport Council to apologise for this.
McLaren has written a letter to the FIA which in the interests of transparency it is publishing with this press statement. That letter speaks for itself and the sentiments expressed in it are sincerely held by McLaren. McLaren has also written to the World Motor Sport Council to apologise that it has taken an FIA investigation to find this information and have expressed our deep regret that our understanding of the facts was improved as a result of the FIA inspection rather than our own investigations. McLaren has recognised that this entire situation could have been avoided if we had informed Ferrari and the FIA about Nigel Stepney’s first communication when it came to our attention. We are, of course, embarrassed by the successive disclosures and have apologised unreservedly to the FIA World Motor Sport Council.To avoid even the possibility of Ferrari information influencing our performance during 2008, McLaren has offered a set of detailed undertakings to the FIA which will impose a moratorium on development in relation to three separate systems. During the course of these incidents, McLaren has conducted a thorough review of its policies and procedures regarding the recruitment and management of staff. The proposals arising from this thorough review have been disclosed to the FIA and McLaren has agreed to demonstrate that all of these policies and procedures have been fully implemented.McLaren wish to make a public apology to the FIA, Ferrari, the Formula 1 community and to Formula 1 fans throughout the world and offer their assurance that changes are now being made which will ensure that nothing comparable to what has taken place will ever happen again. McLaren have also agreed to pay the costs incurred by the FIA for their investigation.
McLaren now wishes to put these matters behind it and to move forward focusing on the 2008 season.”
It looks like this was exactly what Max Mosley was fighting and waiting for. Shortly after McLaren’s statemnt came put, FIA released following statement:
“In the light of McLaren’s public apology and undertakings, the FIA President has asked the members of the World Motor Sport Council for their consent to cancel the hearing scheduled for 14 February 2008 and, in the interests of the sport, to consider this matter closed.”
I believe the members of the WMSC will as usual follow the wishes of the FIA and this matter will be closed. Especialy when also Ferrari seems to be content with this development. Ferrari were quick to come with their own statement too. And they did not hide their satisfaction with the fact that McLaren admitted use of the information obtained from Stepney. They also stressed the fact the several previous statements that came out of McLaren were not true:
“Ferrari notes the apology offered today by the McLaren Group, following the investigations carried out by the FIA Technical Department, as presented to the WSMC on 7th December last. The written and verbal statements issued by senior McLaren personnel both at the World Council meetings of the 26th July and 13th September and through the media have thus been publicly proved wrong. Therefore it is admitted that confidential information which was the property of Ferrari was disseminated within the structure of the English team and this also confirms the seriousness of the behaviour of those involved over the past few months. In the light of McLaren’s apology and the guarantees it has presented, Ferrari respects the proposal of the FIA President to cancel the extraordinary general meeting of the WSMC scheduled for 14th February coming, thus bringing this incident to a close from a sporting point of view. However, it is confirmed that criminal actions underway in Italy and civil ones in England are still continuing.”
The last sentence however means, that the culprits, especially Stepney and Coughlan are not yet off the hook …
However bizzare the latest development is, it looks like some commons sense prevailed. The 2007 season is over and all the teams, including McLaren can now concentrate on the season 2008.
One final note. FIA seems to have learned from their previous mess up. This time the confidential info in their McLaren report is censored properly