Friday, December 14, 2007

Peace by Christmas?

It seems that a grovelling apology from McLaren, and a commitment not to develop certain systems, has finally ended Formula One's espionage saga. The McLaren statement reads:

"To avoid even the possibility of Ferrari information influencing our performance during 2008, McLaren has offered a set of detailed undertakings to the FIA which will impose a moratorium on development in relation to three separate systems.

"McLaren wish to make a public apology to the FIA, Ferrari, the Formula One community and to Formula One fans throughout the world and offer their assurance that changes are now being made which will ensure that nothing comparable to what has taken place will ever happen again. McLaren have also agreed to pay the costs incurred by the FIA for their investigation."

One trusts, then, that in the coming days, Renault will issue a similar apology to McLaren, the Formula One community, and Formula One fans throughout the world, and will undertake not to develop their shock absorbers, fuel system, mass damper and seamless shift transmission, given that such development work could clearly have been influenced by the confidential McLaren information which they were in unauthorised possession of.

The FIA have published a redacted version of their recent report on the development of McLaren's 2008 car. The report demonstrates, as McLaren concede, that the information supplied by Ferrari employee, Nigel Stepney, propagated more widely through McLaren's engineering staff than they previously acknowledged. However, the report fails to establish whether the developments which McLaren planned to introduce arose from public domain information, or from information which they would not have had without the assistance of Mr Stepney. McLaren have, for example, undertaken not to use CO2 gas in their tyres, despite the fact that every other team will, presumably, be availing itself of CO2 next season!

The FIA suggest, with cynical sanctimony, that McLaren engineers in possession of information which, let us remember, they did not seek, but were given, should have refrained from using that information, and should instead have informed Ferrari and the FIA of the presence of the 'mole' within the Ferrari organisation. The last time I checked, Formula One was a competitive, engineering-based sport, in which teams identify how other teams have obtained a performance advantage, and then copy them.

Anyway, let us hope that this proves to be the end of the matter. Let us also hope that the sport can be administered, at some time in the near future, in a consistent and impartial manner.

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