Friday, September 14, 2007

McLaren Formula One team chief defiant over 'spygate' sanctions

McLaren boss Ron Dennis has refused to accept the FIA's decision to strip his team of their 2007 constructors' championship points for their involvement in the Formula One spy saga.

Formula One's governing body has also fined the British team 100 million dollars for incorporating illegally obtained Ferrari intellectual property on their MP4-22 car.

The material concerned is a 780-page dossier given to then-McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan by ex-Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney in April.

Dennis has protested McLaren's innocence since the story broke in early July and continued to do so after Thursday's decision.

"The most important thing is that we will be going motor racing this weekend, the rest of the season and every season. This means that our drivers can continue to compete for the world championship.

"However having been at the hearing today I do not accept that we deserved to be penalised in this way," he said.

"Today's evidence given to the FIA by our drivers, engineers and staff clearly demonstrated that we did not use any leaked information to gain a competitive advantage.

"We have never denied that the information from Ferrari was in the personal possession of one of our employees at his home. The issue is: was this information used by McLaren?

"This is not the case and has not been proven today."

McLaren's drivers Lewis Hamilton, the British rookie who is leading the drivers' championship, and defending double world champion Fernando Alonso escaped FIA sanctions in return for fully complying with the investigation.

Dennis's team had led the constructors' championship by 23 points but not only have they been excluded from this year's title race, there is also the possibility of further penalties, concerning the 2008 season, to follow in December when the FIA examine the McLaren car for next season.

Dennis though is bullish that there will be no further problems and insists that his team will emerge victorious from this year's drivers' championship.

"There will be no issue for the 2008 season as we have not at any stage used any intellectual property of any other team," he added.

"We have got the best drivers and the best car and we intend to win the world championship."

McLaren have not yet decided if they will appeal Thursday's decision.

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