FIA Report: McLaren planned to use secret Ferrari data on MP-23 

Written by David on December 13th, 2007 at 10:59 pmLast Update: December 13th, 2007 at 10:59 pm

According to FIA’s Technical report published earlier, McLaren were planning to use systems on their 2008 car that had been inspired by secret Ferrari information given to them by Nigel Stepney. Having conducted a detailed examination of the design of McLaren’s 2008 car, to see if any Ferrari intellectual property had been used, the report claims that there was evidence of such activity.

Although what the specific parts and systems are have not been revealed, to keep McLaren’s own technical secrets confidential, the report is adamant that some elements of the MP4-23 design was scheduled to include technology inspired by confidential Ferrari information.

The report states: “The [redacted - confidential] system appears to have been re-investigated and developed by McLaren as a result of the receipt of confidential Ferrari information. Despite senior McLaren management imposing a hiatus on development at the time the (Mike) Coughlan activities were revealed, McLaren now intend to use [redcated - confidential] on the 2008 car. The [redacted - confidential] mechanism which McLaren has developed since the 3 May 2007 Coughlan meeting is intended to be used on the 2008 car and appears to have been initiated by the receipt of confidential Ferrari information.

Detailed examination of the report shows that one area where McLaren had appeared to utilise the Ferrari information was in the creation of a new brake balance system.

The report states: “It appears on the basis of these documents that the genesis of the idea to incorporate a [redacted - confidential] on the McLaren 2008 car emanated from the emails exchanged on 12 April 2007 concerning Ferrari’s [redacted – confidential] system and the meeting called on 3 May 2007 by Coughlan. We have not been presented with a convincing explanation to displace the impression given by the documents.

The report also states that McLaren were ready to consider the use of CO2 gas in their tires, as Ferrari do. It is believed ‘more likely than not’ that the idea came to the team from information given by Nigel Stepney.

The report states: “We believe the general investigation by McLaren of the use of [redcated – confidential] established further dissemination of confident Ferrari information to engineers within McLaren which has influenced their work on the 2007 and 2008 cars.

The FIA document also reveals that engineers within the team were aware of a Ferrari ‘mole’ passing information to them.

One email exchange between engineers on April 13, 2007 discussing steering angles mentioned an exact figure for the Ferrari wheelbase. A response from a senior McLaren engineer was: “Is the Ferrari wheelbase an accurate figure? Did it come from photos or our mole?” The response was: “You will find it’s to the nearest ‘mm’.

The report states: “On a natural reading of this exchange and taking into account the suggested explanations for it, we have concluded that both [Senior McLaren Engineer] and [Senior McLaren Engineer] were aware that confidential Ferrari information was being leaked through a mole and were prepared to use that information for McLaren’s benefit in the design of the 2007 and 2008 cars.

The report reveals that McLaren indeed decided to follow Ferrari’s example and increase the wheelbase of their car for 2008, although it could not prove whether this was because of the secret Ferrari information or because of information that was readily available and in the public domain.

McLaren have apologized to the FIA for not being aware of just how far the Ferrari information obtained by the team had spread within their organization, and the report reveals that even a ‘Senior McLaren management figure’ was aware of what was going on. It states the unidentified senior McLaren management figure advised the team to abandon work on a secret technical development because of the spy case surrounding the team.

The report states that on August 8, a senior McLaren engineer communicated a decision reached by a senior McLaren management figure to junior staff members that they were to abandon their efforts on the development. “I would not change the [redacted – confidential] direction until we have to, i.e., when we eventually run the [redacted – confidential]. We will obviously ask for this again for Turkey but I’m not hopeful that we will run this until the outstanding FIA agro [sic] is resolved.“.

McLaren have vowed to cease development work on the parts that could have been inspired by Ferrari knowledge, and the FIA stated on Thursday night that it was now willing to bring the matter to a close.

source: autosport, J.N.

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