The Espionage Saga: A Timeline

The espionage saga has surrounded Formula 1 for the last 3 months and overshadowed the race for the championship. Here, Forumula1.com takes a look back at the crucial events and timings that took place over the course of the season.

21 June: Ferrari announce they are launching a criminal investigation against their head of performance, Nigel Stepney. No reason is given as to the cause of the investigation.

24 June: It is reported that Stepney tampered with both Ferraris in the run-up to the Monaco Grand Prix in May. Nigel Stepney denies the allegations and claims he is in the centre of a ‘dirty tricks campaign and that he will be cleared by the legal process.

25 June: Jean Todt, head of Ferrari, announces that his team has found something unlawful.

3 July: An internal investigation is carried out at Ferrari and Stepney is dismissed from the Ferrari team. McLaren suspect a ‘senior member of their team after discovering they had been a recipient of a dossier containing confidential Ferrari technical data at the end of April. Ferrari claim that it is Mike Coughlan of McLaren who has been suspended, and it is Stepney that passed the data onto him. Ferrari confirm that a warrant has been obtained to search Coughlan s home.

4 July: The FIA launch their own investigation into the saga. McLaren announce that they have conducted their own internal investigation and that they believe no Ferrari data had been passed onto any further members of the team, and none of Ferrari s data had been used to enhance their MP4-22.

8 July: Nigel Stepney denies copying or giving any documents to Coughlan and insists someone else is the leak. He also fears for his life after several ‘high-speed car chases and finding a tracking device on his car.

10 July: A preliminary hearing at the High Court in London sees Coughlan and his wife Trudy accused of ‘behaving disgracefully when they copied the 780 page Ferrari dossier.

11 July: The hearing is called off after both Coughlans provide sworn affidavits stating how they obtained the information, and on the understanding that the information will not be released to the Italian authorities.

12 July: It is announced that McLaren are being summoned before the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on July 26 to answer charges of being in unauthorized possession of confidential Ferrari documents.

16 July: McLaren are concerned over affidavit leaks in which more McLaren team members are implicated. McLaren maintain that no-one other than Coughlan knew about the Ferrari dossier prior to July 3rd.

20 July: The FIA receive McLaren s report on the espionage saga. The report is to be used as a basis for their defence at the World Motor Sport Council meeting. The team still maintain that they are not guilty.

26 July: The World Motor Sport Council convene in Paris. Controversially, McLaren escape punishment thanks to insufficient evidence although they are found guilty of breaking Article 151c of the International Sporting Code. The FIA announce that if evidence is found in the future that McLaren have used Ferrari s information, they could face being banned from the sport for 2007 and 2008.

31 July: FIA president Max Mosley refers the case to the Court of Appeal.

8 Aug: The FIA announce that the Court of Appeal will meet on 13 September in Paris.

31 Aug: The FIA issue a letter which is sent to all team bosses, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Perfo de la Rosa, requesting them to come forward if they have any information pertinent to the espionage saga. The letter is signed by Max Mosley and promises the drivers that no action will be taken against them if they come forward with information related to the case however they will face ‘serious consequences if they are later found to be withholding information.

5 Sept: The FIA announce that they have found ‘new evidence in the espionage saga. The Court of Appeal hearing is withdrawn and replaced with another meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on September 13th.

7 Sept: It is widely reported that the new evidence in the spying case centres on an email exchange between McLaren drivers de la Rosa and Alonso. Alonso denies the allegations, however reveals he has complied with the FIA investigation because of a ‘moral obligation .

8 Sept: McLaren are paid a visit by the Italian authorities directly before qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix begins. The Italian authorities inform McLaren that they are now part of their investigation.

9 Sept: McLaren issue a statement stating the visit by the Italian authorities was ‘wholly unnecessary and  suspect it was designed to disrupt their qualifying and Council hearing preparation. McLaren still maintain that they are innocent and if they are charged, they will be completely exonerated.

13 Sept: The World Motor Sport Council fine McLaren a record $100million. All 2007 points are docked, although both drivers will keep their individual points. The FIA announce they will be preparing a report, scrutinizing McLaren s 2008 car to ensure that no Ferrari data was used to help build it. Ferrari provisionally win the 2007 constructors championship, subject to an appeal by McLaren.