Bernie Ecclestone believes that it would be impossible to eradicate spying and information transfer between teams in Formula One. Spying has been a controversial subject that has overshadowed much of the 2007 season. First McLaren were embroiled in a saga which saw them disqualified from the constructors championship having been found guilty of possessing confidential Ferrari documents. McLaren then pointed the finger at Renault who are now facing a meeting with the World Motor Sport Council, leaving many wondering when the espionage finger pointing will end.
“There has always been spying ever since I have been in Formula 1,â€ Ecclestone said in an interview on the official F1 site. “It is a little bit more sophisticated than it was. In the old days, one guy would employ somebody and they would take the information he brings with him. In a way, it is still happening today.
“Red Bull employed Adrian Newey. Why did they do that? They took him on board, because he s got years of information about what to do and what not. I do not imagine he came with any drawings, but he came with all his knowledge in his head. We cannot stop that.
“If I am running a private hospital, I would engage the best surgeons I could find. If I hear about a guy who had done 30 heart transplants successfully somewhere else, then I am going to employ him, because he has proven that he can do it. You haven’t bought anything except knowledge. I cannot tell you to forget everything you have done.”
Ecclestone also believes that any espionage that does take place should be the jurisdiction of the police and not the FIA as it is a matter of information theft. He also revealed that when the McLaren espionage story broke, he advised Ron Dennis to go to the police.
“They [the FIA] should keep out of it,â€ he continued. “I did tell Ron Dennis, when the whole mess started, to report to the police that there was a case of theft – tell them that there is an employee in the house who is receiving or purchasing stolen property. If it was dealt in that way, we would not have had the problems we faced this year. It should be a matter for the police and the court. They have much better tools to find the truth.
“When the information became available to Ron Dennis that something was going on in his company, he should have called Todt and said â€˜Listen Jean, something funny is going on, let’s get together . They would have met, both would have informed the police, who then would have investigated the matter and we would have known what really happened.
“I talk often about the good old days, and probably they weren’t good old days. But at least in any event we used to sort these problems out by ourselves. Nowadays every team has got five lawyers, three doctors, two masseurs, a psychologist, and all of them want to work. So if there is the chance to cause trouble, they do cause trouble. Without all these people, the teams would not need to do all this and we would have solved the problems internally.”
When questioned about the allegations that Renault face, Ecclestone replied, “”I do not know the extent of what they have done and what they have not done. I think the difference between them and McLaren is that McLaren were getting information over a person, rather than somebody has stolen a lot of drawings in one go.”