McLaren confesses, sorta
In a bizarre twist to the ongoing war between McLaren and Ferrari over the theft of proprietary Ferrari information recovered from McLaren’s chief engineer, McLaren appears to be claiming that Ferrari deserved it.
McLaren’s boss, Ron Dennis – he who lied to the public when he said that nothing incorrect would ever occur on is team, right before he admitted to the FIA that he’d known all along that his chief engineer was in possession of stolen property – has now written a letter to the FIA saying that it was Ferrari that gained a competitive edge.
Dennis’s letter admits that information from a “former Ferrari employee,” which would doubtless be a reference to Nigel Stepney – who became a “former employee” only recently, after Ferrari fired him for his ostensible role in the theft, was the basis for McLaren’s complaint about the Ferrari Formula One car’s floor, a complaint lodged with the FIA earlier this season.
In response, the FIA changed the rules to disallow the floor. But, in Dennis’s letter, McLaren claims that Ferrari used that system to win the Australian Grand Prix.
Odd, to say the least.
Here’s Dennis’ whine:
"[Ferrari] have gone to extraordinary length to try to maximise (sic) the damage to McLaren, no doubt hoping to gain some advantage for the world championship. McLaren’s reputation has been unfairly sullied by incorrect press reports from Italy and grossly misleading statements from Ferrari."
Dennis did not indicate what in the press reports or Ferrari statements were not accurate.
Dennis has admitted to the FIA that he knew Mike Coughlan, Dennis’ employee, had stolen Ferrari documents, that neither Dennis nor anyone on the team did anything to report that fact to anyone, including the FIA and Ferrari, and now Dennis appears to have confirmed that either the documents or their possible source was the basis for the successful McLaren protest against Ferrari to the FIA.
Not a smooth move.
During the Second World War, Germany used a code called “Enigma.” It had several variants, but the most secure was the naval version, used to dispatch submarines to their stations and for the submarines to communicate their locations.
Though Germany thought the code completely secure, British and American scientists actually succeeded in breaking it. (Which, in an interesting historical sidelight, involved creating a machine that could perform rapid mathematical calculations and, thereby, became the precursor to the computer.)
But, having broken the code, the Allies were very careful about how they used the information they gained. The last thing they wanted to do was tip the Germans to the fact that their code was no longer secure, as they would then change it. So, whenever the Enigma information was the basis for an attack, there was always a cover, always an obvious explanation created to which the enemy could logically attribute the attack.
Seems that McLaren didn’t do that.
Indeed, it may have been McLaren’s floor complaint that ultimately gave away the game. Ferrari has not completely explained how they tumbled to what was going on.
But if this is Mr. Dennis’s idea of a defense, it would go a long way toward explaining how it all happened, wouldn’t it?