Ferrari: McLaren profited from spying
A National Basketball Association referee is under federal investigation and NBA Commissioner Stern is on the hot seat.
He doesn’t know how good he’s got it.
The FIA has it a lot worse.
Stern need only deal with one rogue official. The FIA is dealing with criminal conduct on an institutional scale by the team that is leading its current constructors and driver’s championships, conduct aimed at the team that is currently in second place.
In reports published in the British newspaper The Guardian and the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra, Ferrari has accused McLaren of profiting from the information illegally stolen from the Ferrari Formula One team. Moreover, Ferrari says that the only reason McLaren currently has the Formula One points lead is that it profited from the information which was stolen.
It has also said that McLaren management was deeply involved in the espionage.
The FIA begins its hearing into the matter today.
If Ferrari can make good on these claims, McLaren is in very big trouble.
Ferrari believes that on five oor more occasions, information which had been stolen it and was later recovered in the home of McLaren chief engineer Mike Coughlan was shared with high-level McLaren team executives, including its chief executive, Martin Whitmarsh, and its engineering director, Paddy Lowe.
This isn’t just a matter of honor.
Ferrari believes the two teams are otherwise so close to each other in the Formula One competition that the stolen information is enough to give McLaren the edge and account for its status as points leader. Had the information not been stolen, Ferrari believes it would have the points lead.
It also believes that the difference has a price: that the effect of being behind in the Formula One championship translates to a loss in earnings of at least €5.5 million as well as an incalculable loss to the prestige of the Ferrari brand.
Past McLaren statements have attempted to portray Coughlan as acting alone, and have been carefully framed to give the impression that others on the team acted honorably. McLaren’s statements have, however, acknowledged that others on the team did know about the stolen documents.
If the published reports prove true, however, the McLaren statements will only add to their trouble, as the false denials only add to the impression that spying on Ferrari was a deliberate act of industrial espionage approved at McLaren’s highest executive levels.
Would the FIA disqualify McLaren from Formula One competition for the year?
Would it have a choice?
Bernie Ecclestone would probably trade positions with David Stern in a heartbeat.
Well, maybe not.
Bernie’s got more money. And, functionally, he owns Formula One. Stern’s merely the hired help.
But, if you want to figure out how this whole controversy is going to end – the McLaren one, that is – try to figure out how Bernie Ecclestone can make this work to his advantage.
That will be how it’s going to end.