McLaren s woes over the espionage saga intensified over the weekend as Italian police interviewed McLaren management on the eve of the race on Sunday.
Italian authorities reportedly issued writs to several key members of the McLaren team, including chief executive Ron Dennis. At the time, the team refused to be drawn on the matter, stating only that, “McLaren did receive some contact from the Italian authorities, but was not charged with anything.â€
The move came as McLaren are preparing for a second hearing before the World Motor Sport Council later this week. Originally, the meeting was scheduled as an appeal hearing for Ferrari, however new evidence has been found and the appeal hearing has been turned into a second hearing. The WMSC has warned that if it transpires that McLaren are guilty, they risk exclusion not only from the 2007 season, but also the 2008 one.
McLaren are, understandably, upset at the timing of the Italian authority intervention. On Sunday night, they issued a statement saying, “We strongly suspect that the nature and timing of this wholly unnecessary contact, just before the start of qualifying, was to disrupt our preparation for this important session and Thursday s World Motor Sport Council hearing. McLaren in completely confident that were any proceedings of this type ever to be brought, we would be completely exonerated.”
Meanwhile, Jean Todt has acknowledge that the espionage saga is damaging Formula 1 s image, however he believes that it is important that the case is investigated thoroughly, and the truth is fully revealed.
“It s a taint on the sport every time that there is a bad controversy,â€ Todt remarked. “It can happen in athletics, it can happen with gold medal winners, it can happen with cycling, it can happen with football and now it is something that is happening in Formula 1.
“I think that we are sorry that it is happening in Formula 1, but we are in the position where we want the truth to appear and that s all that we want, and all that we have been working on and doing. We are confident that the truth will come through.â€
Ferrari will be presenting new evidence at the hearing this Thursday and Todt is intending to carry on with the prosecution, whatever the outcome. “For us, it is something which is too important and we will move forward in Italy,â€ Todt continued. “With the FIA, I am not going to comment on what the decisions will be because I don t know what the decisions will be and will outline what can happen once the decision has been taken. And we will move on with the civil case in the UK as well.â€