Stepney update 8: Stepney accuses Ferrari
Nigel Stepney has told The Guardian, a British newspaper, that, “I have no idea how Mike Coughlan got the documents and I have no idea what exactly he is supposed to have.” Stepney has also implied that Ferrari put his life in jeopardy: “There have been high speed chases. Ash (his girlfriend) has been stalked at the house. There was tracking gear on my car. Someone was going to get hurt.”
Stepney couldn’t have been more clear in proclaiming his innocence: “I have no idea how anything came into Mike’s possession. Categorically, he didn’t get them from me.”
Stepney also made it clear that Ferrari was not innocent. To the contrary, he implied – as he had earlier suggested – that Ferrari was engaging in a campaign of dirty tricks. “I began to feel like I was some sort of traitor, just because I no longer wanted to travel. I was put in a position where it was difficult to do my job. I started to look at other teams and approached [Honda’s] Nick Fry. As soon as I went against the system at Ferrari, I got squeezed. If you go against it, it’s like going against the Vatican.”
Stepney was on vacation in the Philippines when allegations against him surfaced. Initially, that was portrayed as his having fled, but it might be that it simply made it more convenient for Ferrari to launch allegations against him.
What is actually known, however, is this:
Police have twice searched Stepney’s home. Police have also searched the residence of McLaren chief engineer Mike Coughlan. Police recovered documents in that search, and those documents were Ferrari documents. Stepney and Coughlin did approach Honda’s Formula One team about employment. Stepney’s contract with Ferrari expired at the end of this year. Ferrari has fired Stepney. McLaren has suspended Coughlan and denied that it received any Ferrari information.
So, how did Coughlan get the Ferrari documents.
And why would he have bothered?
McLaren has been the class of the Formula One field this year, and Ferrari definitely has not. At least from race results, Coughlan would have been in possession, as McLaren chief engineer, of better secrets than anything he could have obtained from Ferrari.