Spy Story 2: ING Renault deny FIA accusations 

Written by David on November 10th, 2007 at 11:15 amLast Update: November 10th, 2007 at 11:15 am

Flavio Briatore and Norbert HaugRenault denied accusations of spying on their rivals McLaren. Renault chiefs have been summoned to attend a hearing of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Monaco on December 6th when they could be hit with heavy penalties. The team have been accused of receiving information that included ‘the layout and critical dimensions of the McLaren F1 car,’ according to the sport’s governing body.

McLaren were fined 100 million US dollars and excluded from the constructors’ championship after being found guilty on a similar charge in September. But the French team have denied confidential data brought to the team by a former McLaren engineer was used in their 2007 F1 car.

“None of this information was used to influence design decisions,” said Renault in a statement. Renault, who won the drivers’ and constructors’ titles in 2005 and 2006, insist they have nothing to hide and revealed that engineer Phil Mackereth was suspended on September 6th. They admitted the information was brought to the team by Mackereth, who loaded it onto their F1 file system ‘without the knowledge of anyone in authority in the team.’

Renault said they immediately informed McLaren of the situation and then notified the FIA. “The information was completely cleansed from the team’s computer systems and a formal investigation was started. Since then we have constantly and regularly kept McLaren and the FIA informed on all relevant findings. The original floppy discs were impounded and sent to our solicitors for return to McLaren.”

The statement added: “(We) have co-operated fully with McLaren and the FIA in this matter to the extent that the team has invited McLaren’s independent experts to come and assess the team’s computer systems and inspect the cars and the design records, to demonstrate that this unfortunate incident has not in any way influenced the design of the cars.”

They added that they were “fully confident in the judgment of the World Council.” Renault finished third in the constructors’ championship behind Ferrari and BMW Sauber this season.

Back in August, with McLaren under investigation for breaching the same sporting code, team boss Flavio Briatore was clear on his view of the rules. “Here is a team that acquired an advantage illegally,” he said at the time. The Italian was just as forthright when asked what sanctions should be taken against McLaren. “Just read the regulations: for intellectual property theft the punishment is exclusion,” he said.

source: AFP

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