Just when you thought it was all over, there is a further twist to the spy story involving McLaren and Ferrari.
Nigel Stepney, previously of Ferrari, has claimed that it wasn t just McLaren who was spying – Ferrari also spied on McLaren and were in possession of key factors to do with the MP4-22 car. “I got weight distribution, I got other aspects of various parts of their car, and I was Ferrari s employee at the time,â€ he told www.grandprix.com.
Ferrari are, naturally, denying the claims, particularly given the recent turbulent history between Stepney and the team culminating in Stepney s dismissal. “We cannot take into consideration quotes from a man like him, a man who gave 780 pages of Ferrari documents to the chief designer of McLaren – who exchanged 320 emails and SMS messages with him!â€ a spokesman for Ferrari said. “Can he sound credible talking about that?â€
After being found guilty of espionage last month, McLaren were stripped of all their 2007 constructors points and fined a record$100 million. Stepney believes that Ferrari should also have been questioned during the incident. “I got information on them,â€ he said. “Ferrari got off lightly. “I was aware of certain stuff they were doing at tests, fuel levels for example. I think Ferrari should have been docked points personally. The question is: did I use the information, did I talk about it? I spoke to some people about it. I can’t prove it, there are no e-mails or anything; points about the fuel and the differences between the teams were discussed inside.
“But as well as McLaren having an advantage, did Ferrari have an advantage? I think so. It looks like information was flowing only one way. No one has been balancing the argument, no one has asked the question.”
Stepney has claimed that the McLaren information came from Coughlan – the same man who shared information about Ferrari with various McLaren colleagues, information sharing that led to the FIA s investigation and ultimately McLaren s punishments.
In a further twist, Stepney has claimed that he tipped off the FIA about Ferrari s illegal moving floor, not McLaren. McLaren used the floor knowledge as part of their defence during the World Motor Sport Council hearing, claiming that Stepney had given them the information on the illegal flooring in an attempt at whistle-blowing. Stepney states that he communicated his concerns over the past to FIA technical advisor Peter Wright by both email and telephone, and passed the data on the floor to Coughlan at a later date.
Mosley dismissed McLaren s claims during the trail stating that, “If there was any hint of whistle-blowing, it was not in those documents. He had the opportunity to whistle-blow at the beginning – he did not. Instead, he communicated information to McLaren. The fact is that he did not give us information, despite being in touch with our people.â€
Stepney has also stuck up for his friend, backing up McLaren s stance that no Ferrari data or ideas made it s way onto the MP4-22. “Mike really had no reason to use any of this information at McLaren, and to the best of my knowledge he never contemplated the idea. You cannot take items from one concept of car design, manufacture them and expect that they are going to benefit the concept of another car design – there was never any intention of using this information in any other team.â€