Ferrari hush up radio interception claims

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The McLaren-Ferrari spying row has opened a Pandora’s Box of allegations.

Ferrari have now tried to hush up a former driver’s claims that they spied on other teams’ radio transmissions.

But the fact that they admitted to it in the past makes that denial hard to swallow.

In the wake of McLaren being cleared last week Mika Salo, who stood in for Michael Schumacher at the Scuderia in 1999, said the following about his time with the team:

We always spied on McLaren, listening to their radio traffic. After every practice session I had in front of me, on paper, all the discussions Mika Hakkinen had had with his engineer.

While firing off thundering denunciations of the verdict clearing McLaren, Ferrari also found time to issue a press release regarding Salo’s comments:

What has been published in Ilta-Sanomat* does not match the thoughts I wanted to express.

I would therefore like to make it clear that I was only referring to Formula One in the late nineties, when radio technology was still at an almost amateurish level, which meant it could happen that some radio conversations could be listened to randomly because of interference.

*A Finnish newspaper

Salo may have an axe to grind. After all, he relinquished his only shot at a Grand Prix win that year (he never won one) to team mate Eddie Irvine at Ferrari’s behest, and Irvine didn’t even manage to win the title. Nor was he a great friend of compatriot Hakkinen.

But I don’t believe this clarification from Ferrari. Why?

Because two years earlier, after the 1997 European Grand Prix, they claimed to have transcripts of radio communications from both Williams and McLaren, alleging that the two teams had conspired to fix the outcome of the race.

Hoist by their own petard, there.

Image: Ferrari Media

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Tags: f1 / formula one / formula 1 / grand prix / motor sport

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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5 comments on “Ferrari hush up radio interception claims”

  1. The whole spying row, once knocked down into its basic components, is Ferrari being angry that McLaren could have used the leaked “How To Build a 2007 Ferrari” manual to point out that their movable floor was illegal, back in Australia.

    The whole affair’s turned into a competition over who can the lesser of the dirtiest players, which doesn’t put anyone in a good light.

  2. salo doesn’t have an axe to grind, in fact he still drives for ferrari in a number of other championships. he was just being open, frank and honest before the red team stepped in.

    i love the line “does not match the thoughts I wanted to express”. notice how it doesn’t say “it’s not what i said”, nor “i’ve been quoted out of context”.

    it’s like a jedi mind trick.

    it’s a shame he didn’t actually go farther and say:

    “i remember the day ferrari hacked into mclaren’s radio and told mika to pit, that was hilarious”

    i’m sure before the years out someone will.

  3. Well Ron Dennis did make a reference to it after Monaco…

  4. Ah, but was radio even encrypted in 1997? I am not too sure…
    And it is true that the technology was in a rather amateurish phase in 1999, I bet everyone was listening to everyone else.
    Didn’t Flavio talk about listening to Ferrari’s radio just last year?
    I think this is all just mud slinging by the media, and doesn’t lead us anywhere TBH.

  5. “Spying” on radio transmissions.
    Somebody’s grasping at straws. That’s been going on since radio was invented! Isn’t it odd some F1 teams go so far as to use encryption to remain “secret” but in NASCAR they rent radios at the races so the public can listen to the driver chatter. That includes testing and practice also! The frequencies are actually assigned to the car number. For an additional fee we can even get driver chatter on the televized broadcast!!!!!!

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