Stepney update 4: Ferrari secrets to McLaren?
It was industrial espionage, at least according to Ferrari.
Statements issued Tuesday by Ferrari and McLaren indicate that all of the furor surrounding Nigel Stepney, former Director of Development for its Formula One team, is because he is accused of having passed team technical information to an employee of the McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team.
McLaren confirms that one of its employees did receive Ferrari documents.
McLaren issued a statement Tuesday that says it “became aware on the 3rd July, 2007 that a senior member of its technical organization was the subject of a Ferrari investigation regarding the receipt of technical information. The team has leart that this individual had personally received a package of technical information from a Ferrari employee at the end of April. Whilst McLaren has no involvement in the matter and condemns such actions, it will fully cooperate with any investigation. The individual has in the meanwhile been suspended by the company pending a full and proper investigation of the matter.”
Ferrari confirmed that it had brought an action against Stepney “and a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes technical engineer in a court in Modena regarding the theft of technical information.” It also stated that “a search was carried out at the engineer’s house, where we found this information.” According to Ferrari, the company also plans to bring a lawsuit in Great Britain against the McLaren employee.
The McLaren employee has not been identified by that company, or by Ferrari.
Earlier Tuesday, Ferrari announced that Stepney was no longer in Ferrari’s employ. Previously, the company had stated that he remained in their employ, but under suspension. That status apparently has changed.