Honda implicated; Stepney fearful; Ferrari in Court

Honda’s involvement 

Honda have become the third team to have a role in the soap opera that is the Ferrari espionage and sabotage story. It appears that Honda have confirmed that Nigel Stepney and Mike Coughlan, the two accused men, approached the British based team looking for jobs. However, Honda have made it clear that at no time did either man offer them leaked Ferrari information.

Ahead of the British Grand Prix, Honda made this statement: “Earlier this year, Nigel Stepney, formerly of Scuderia Ferrari, requested a meeting with Nick Fry. Nigel Stepney subsequently met in June of this year with Nick Fry and brought with him Mike Coughlin of McLaren, with a view to investigating job opportunities within the Honda Racing F1 team.”

“Honda would like to stress that at no point during this meeting was any confidential information offered or received. Nick Fry informed Jean Todt and Ron Dennis of the meeting and have offered to provide any information required by Ferrari and McLaren.”

McLaren’s Innocence

Ron Dennis has reiterated that he believes his team is innocent of any wrong doing. “Speaking for our company, I am sure we will be completely vindicated with the passing of time,” he said. “I doubt there will be many apologies afterward but the truth will come out.”

“Part of the information we have made available to the FIA is all the details of all the developments in our cars, not only for the period after April 28 but also the preceding months,” Dennis continued. “All of the drawings are available for all of those developments and none of those drawings or developments has any trace of other competitors’ intellectual property. It is extremely easy to track back the influence of any one individual into the development of our racing cars, because everything has a name against it.”

Stepney living in fear

Nigel Stepney has also reiterated his innocence. “I categorically deny that I copied the Ferrari documents or that I sent them to Mike Coughlan,” Stepney said to the media on Saturday. “I knew I was being watched all the time at the factory and that everything I did and said was being reported back and that people knew whenever I accessed files on the computer. I have no idea how anything came into Mike’s possession – if he has some documents, they came from another source.”

Stepney has admitted that he fears reprisals from Ferrari fans and he has left Italy because of security concerns. “There have been high-speed car chases,” Stepney said. “We have been followed by more than one car, with Italian plates, and when we cornered one of them last Thursday evening, the men in it refused to speak.”

“I don’t believe they were journalists. There was tracking gear on my car. Someone was going to get hurt. I had no option but to get out of Italy. Ferrari is unique in Italy – it’s a religion. If you go against it, it’s like going against the Vatican. I’m anxious, naturally, but I haven’t done anything wrong and I believe in the legal system in Italy.”

Ferrari in court

Jean Todt has revealed that a court hearing will get underway on Tuesday, 10th July. He was unable pass much comment on the situation due to the legal situation but when asked about Stepney’s comments he remarked, “I have been reading some of the magazines which have been writing about that. Unfortunately at the moment, I’m not allowed to make any kind of comment.”

“I wish I could answer and give more detail now, but as it’s a court case, I’m simply not allowed. If you analyse the different statements, official statements, which have been made by some people involved in it, you can clearly make your own judgement from what has been officially stated and then came out with some interviews.”

“I’m simply not allowed to speak about it because it’s a court case,” Todt continued. “Things will come over the next days, over the next week and then when everything is settled, then probably it will be easier for us to comment and to answer to details, but at the moment, unfortunately, I’m not in a position – I cannot, simply, I cannot because it’s a court case, one in Italy and one in UK.”

“The first procedure was bringing our lawyers together with some independent experts to go to visit the house of one of the top management people from a competitor’s team. They decided after that, that they have some facts, which allowed them to move forward. And to move forward is to go to the High Court on Tuesday.”