FIA end McLaren investigation and publish Renault report

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The FIA has formally ended its investigation into McLaren’s use of Ferrari intellectual property by cancelling the meeting of the World Motor Sports Council planned for February 14th.

However the fall-out from the McLaren and Renault hearings continues. The sport’s governing body also published the full transcripts from the December 6th hearing on whether Renault had used intellectual property belonging to McLaren.

Renault were found to have used the information obtained by Phil MacKereth but were not punished. In the hearing transcript Max Mosley explains why he considers the two cases to be different:

It is only fair to state that the original hearing of McLaren resulted in no penalty. This is because the World Motor Sports Council was not told the truth. Then, there was a second hearing at which it became clear that we had not been told the truth at the first hearing and that there was more to this. This resulted in a penalty. It also resulted in a strong suspicion that there was more to come out. Without going into matters that would not be appropriately discussed here, that provoked the third and very detailed investigation that we have just handed out. By contrast, it can be said for Renault that, from the outset, as soon as there was any question, we were sent copies of everything (witness statements, documents, etc.). From McLaren we initially received blank denial. Though we were told there was an investigation, McLaren sent us no notes of investigations or notes of meetings, nothing of the kind we received from Renault. Arguably, it is a bit unfair to say that we have treated McLaren in a slightly more aggressive manner.

I haven’t had time to read the document in full but this paragraph jumped out at me, not least because of the legal action the FIA is threatening against the Sunday Times for Martin Brundle’s article calling the trial of McLaren a ‘witch hunt’.

Once again the FIA published the document as an un-indexed PDF of a photocopied document. The pages are squint, the text low-resolution and smudged, and it cannot be searched.

They have clearly produced the document in such a sub-standard form because of their embarrassment earlier this year when they published secret information about Ferrari and McLaren’s cars that were supposed to be censored in a PDF. The mainstream media’s conspiracy of silence over that error apparently continues.

Whether this new move and the publication of the Renault document convinces me that justice was done is too early to say. I will write more on this when I’ve had enough time to scrutinise the new documents.

Do you think the FIA verdict on Renault was correct?

More on the McLaren and Renault spying cases

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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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17 comments on “FIA end McLaren investigation and publish Renault report”

  1. yes.

    but, only because of the result of mclaren’s july hearing.

    in renault’s case there were no emails requesting technical clarification, there were no lunches in barcelona and no driver tried to blackmail his boss. therefore no justification for a huge fine.

    however, renault were NOT being as honest as their lawyer tried to make out they were. they apparently have forgotten EVERYTHING that has happened in the past 12 months and really did deserve a penalty… had a precedent not already been set back in july.

  2. So one of the justifications for McLaren’s penalty was that their driver tried to blackmail the boss, Sidey? Sheesh, you really don’t like Ron, do you? :D

    No emails requesting technical clarification, just engineers sitting down together to discuss how they can use some McLaren drawings; no lunches in Barcelona, just admitted distribution of a competitor’s info amongst the top designers. You are right on one thing, at least – Renault were not nearly as honest and transparent as everyone seems to think. Compare this paragraph from the Renault hearing’s decision with the events in the McLaren case:

    “The findings of Renault’s preliminary inquiry were that no dissemination beyond Mackereth had occurred (well, bugger me, that was what Ron found too). This had been Mackereth’s evidence at the time (as had Coughlan’s been). The various internal and external investigations, very much assisted by McLaren, demonstrate that this initial position was incorrect (how odd, it was Ron who indicated to Max that there might be more too). Renault accepts this and its various witness statements produced after these initial findings have clarified the position (well there ya go – McLaren had witness statements too – the difference being that Max didn’t believe a word of them but accepted the Renault ones as gospel).”

    The two cases are so nearly identical that it is absurd to penalize one and not the other. To point at the July hearing as a precedent is also nonsense since it reached its conclusions based on no evidence whereas the Renault hearing was rich in evidence.

  3. So one of the justifications for McLaren’s penalty was that their driver tried to blackmail the boss, Sidey?

    sorry, should’ve been clearer.

    my point is: there was nothing in renault’s closet that would have ENABLED a driver to blackmail flavio.

  4. To point at the July hearing as a precedent is also nonsense since it reached its conclusions based on no evidence whereas the Renault hearing was rich in evidence.

    nonsense. whilst you and i will almost certainly never agree on this matter, the fact is the FIA set a precedent in july that stated a team can be found to be in breach of article 151c, but that no penalty need be applied.

    you can argue the toss on whether that original descision was fair judgement, but that’s a whole other argument.

  5. Well, you’re right in that Renault had the sense not to include the drivers in their engineers’ discussions, Sidey. So yes, maybe the drivers would not have been able to indulge in blackmail but I fail to see how this is relevant to the case. It was an engineer who went from Renault to McLaren who blew the thing open, rather than a couple of drivers – what’s the difference, apart from job description?

    And essentially you are saying that the WMSC has set a precedent whereby the penalty for offending against article 151c can be anything from nothing to the heaviest fine ever imposed by a sporting body. Remember that that is all McLaren were ever found guilty of – the WMSC has no power to legislate on or penalize industrial espionage. To my mind, that gives the FIA just a leetle too much room to favor those they want to and use the big stick on others.

    But again, you’re right, both in that the FIA set a precedent and in that we will probably never agree on this one. In fact, McLaren were found guilty the first time without the matter of the disrepute of the sport ever being addressed, without evidence, without anything but Max’s desire to find them guilty. They were not penalized because of the lack of evidence – so how could they have been found guilty?

  6. How can Mcclaren be found guilty – makes no sense doesn’t it? – if you have a person who thinks he is the greatest judge since pontious pilate it makes sense – evidence is not proof – suspicion – is all thats required and as for ongoing threats of a trial by the fia on brundle – I dont think it will be carried out Max is doing his old mans bluff – how can brundle be singled out when half the world press appeared to have the same opinion? – it wont go to the courts in uk as max would be laughed out of court – no wonder he is a tax exile – we dont want him here – good riddance to old rubbish

  7. Remember that that is all McLaren were ever found guilty of…

    you’ve lost me. mclaren had a conduit of live information coming from a employee of a rival team. this conduit extended to the last man in the pyramid (driver) and all the way back up again. a two-way flow of information. at races and at tests.

    renault had some drawings.

    i’m not trying to suggest renault are whiter than white, nor that the $100m fine was correct. only that “guilty + no penalty” is a consistent fine, as originally set out by the FIA in july.

  8. My point is merely that the WMSC were supposed to be ruling on whether McLaren brought the sport into disrepute – as stated by Max in his preamble to the first hearing. Yet at no point did they explain how McLaren’s actions, whatever they were, managed to achieve such disrepute.

    You overstate your case anyway, Sidey. It was not McLaren that had “a conduit of live information” but Coughlan, if such a conduit existed at all – it was not proved but merely inferred by Max. I also don’t know where your pyramid comes in – all that was proved was that Coughlan passed info to de la Rosa who then shared it with Alonso on a few occasions. That is what was proved and all else is speculation.

    It’s all a bit irrelevant to the precedent argument, anyway. The first hearing was not a precedent for the Renault case since the reason given for there being no penalty in spite of a guilty verdict was that there was no proof that the info was used by the company; in Renault’s case, there was ample proof that the info was used. So, if precedent is used at all, it must refer to the second McLaren hearing when it was at least “inferred” that the company used the info. And we all know what penalty was decided in that case…

  9. “guilty + no penalty” is a consistent fine, as originally set out by the FIA in july.

    Not correct, if I may interject. Mac’s no penalty was based on the assumption that no Ferrari data was in Mac’s shop at the time of the ruling. Renault ADMIT to having Mac’s data for over a year; Mac’s subsequent fine was when “suspicion” of data in Mac’s hands came forth.

    So how come Renault aren’t penalized????? It’s a blatant double standard of the worst kind!

  10. I expected a fine of some sort for Renault but it looks the whole is leave this aside and start afresh in 2008 but the problem is if this happens again in future what will happen. The Renault ruling doesn’t look clear to me at the moment.

  11. I’ve tried not to have a hand in discussing the Ferrari vs McLaren vs Renault case, and to be honest – no matter which team I have allegiance for – I really don’t give two hoots.

    It’s gone on for far too long that the FIA can do whatever they want, all I want is the 2008 season (and future seasons of F1) to come along and see what happens.

    We can all discuss this in a pub, at mates houses, over SMS, a blog, or whatever, but it really changes nothing.

    So my answer to do I think the FIA verdict to Renault was correct? I’d give the same answer (as it stands) to Ferrari vs McLaren – makes no difference to me – I’m a spectator, what goes on in the background is speculation and for all I know, it can remain as that.

  12. Our long national nightmare is over…

    [hmmm – a Gerald Ford reference on a British website]

  13. That was hilarious, Nico! Who thought you could link Gerald Ford and F1?

    (For the benefit of our younger non-American F1 fans, Gerald Ford was the guy who replaced Richard Nixon as US President after Watergate.)

  14. No justice, no peace! Just sweep it all under the rug, forget the incongruities of the entire process, and lets just race in ’08?

    Lets rig the deck and see who “wins” the titles next year? Like Versailles after WWI, what we’ve done here is establish a truce until the next conflagration. Get rid of Ron and Max, and there’s a shot at true peace and a return to competition, though it will never be the same again.

  15. Well, Renault should have been punished. That, however, will have had put Macca in a spot as well. Why? Macca recently admitted (of course, only after initial investigation by FIA proved it already to incriminate them) to developing parts using Ferrari information, which they’ll stop to develop. Macca would have been possibly thrown out. As much as you all guys would like to throw Max out, you owe him.

    Again why? The reason is Renault would have definitely withdrawn if there was any adverse impact. Macca have already suffered, with negative press and sponsors quitting. Macca could have been doing worse, if they were to be thrown out of the sport for a full 2008, as Max originally proposed.

    Now, what Max seemingly has pulled off, which many do not realise (well some did) was that with this apology letter of Macca (plus no further escalation of Renault case promise, i suspect) and pardoning of Renault, got the racing back on track for next year.

    You may not like me saying, but all Macca fans owe it to Max to see their beloved team racing next year. Of-course there are financial interests of FIA and Bernie at stake and are as important in this as have been ever.

    P.S: I do not work for FIA/MAX/Bernie. ‘Am just an ordinary person who smelt a rat!

  16. Sri… what you said is so true! Nothing to add…

  17. Yep, Sri has the point and all the people who think McLaren were hard done by should look at all the information that has come out, it wasn’t just a few mails between the drivers, a large part of the organisation knew about “the mole” as they even called him. It has been good PR by the FIA to not have the press really take hold of this because then there would’ve been much more pressure to kick McLaren out completely. But then again the press doesn’t wish to destroy F1 as it’s also their business and F1 without McLaren would be just not that marketable anymore. It gives me a chuckle to see people comparing the Renault and McLaren case and stating that McLaren were punished too hard and that Renault got let off. Au contraire, my friends…

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