Jackie Stewart: spy story could force sponsors to withdraw F1 

Written by David on September 12th, 2007 at 9:27 amLast Update: September 12th, 2007 at 9:27 am

Jackie StewartWorld champion Jackie Stewart has warned the sport’s leaders that failing to resolve the spying affair swiftly and discretely may result in major sponsors withdrawing from Formula 1. Team owner Frank Williams, has echoed Stewart’s comments, saying he is concerned about potential damage to the sport’s business should the affair continue to dominate Formula One coverage.

The Monza paddock was dominated by speculations over the upcoming World Motor Sport Council hearing, in which McLaren could face a possible disqualification from this year’s and next year’s championship. Stewart believes the situation is inflicting grave damages to the business of Formula One, and he urged the governing body to resolve the matter swiftly. “I think it’s wrong, what’s going on at the present time,” Stewart told autosport.com. “I think dirty laundry should be washed behind closed doors. There’s no good boasting ‘I’ve got more dirty laundry than you’ve got’; what’s in it for everybody doing that? It’s a very dangerous set of circumstances that’s occurring, and it’s potentially threatening the financial foundations of Formula One. If this goes the wrong way, I could see major trouble with major multinational corporations wanting to get out because of corporate governance. So I think the whole thing has to be sorted very quickly; get away from this head-hunting, there’s no need for this.”

Williams echoed Stewart’s words, telling autosport he was: “quietly concerned that if this goes on much longer, it will deter sponsors who are currently present in Formula One, or who are close to coming in. This may cost Formula One some business,” Williams added. “Hopefully not, but it’s in every newspaper most days of the week nowadays.”

Asked about the measures taken by the FIA, with McLaren drivers requested to cooperate in its investigation, Williams admitted the governing body was pursuing the matter with what he termed as ‘enormous tenacity’. “I don’t know all of the FIA statutes, but I guess they believe – and they’re right – that the F1 world championship belongs to the FIA. They have the right to administer it as they see fit, providing that at all times this is within the law meets expectations of fairness. Given that, they clearly feel they have a right to ask any competitor – driver, or team, or team member – in the championship to pass on to them information of an unsporting act. They think this is a serious case, so they seem to be taking this very seriously. And with a cynical smile I’ll add, with the most enormous tenacity.”

Stewart, on the other hand, said he was unhappy about the inclusion of the drivers in the process and stated that the allegations against McLaren – of obtaining confidential Ferrari information – is likely much ado about nothing. “I don’t think the drivers should be involved – it’s quite extraordinary,” the Scotsman said. “The whole thing is becoming a mountain from what is basically a molehill. There’s always been transfer of information from one team to another – it’s been going on for very many years. But right now, the amount of evidence that’s around, nobody quite knows what’s happening. And in any case, all that evidence should not be passed on to media or people in the paddock. This should be kept for a court of law, where proper disciplines can be exercised behind closed doors.”

source: autosport

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