Alonso implicated in F1 spy scandal

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> World champion Fernando Alonso knew a lot about Ferrari - even down to what high-tech substance it was using to inflate its tires.

Updated: September 16, 2007 14:34 IST
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Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium:

World champion Fernando Alonso knew a lot about Ferrari - even down to what high-tech substance it was using to inflate its tires to keep them from blistering.

With stunning detail, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) disclosed the extent of what McLaren's drivers knew about their rivals' cars, their setup and even their strategy.

In the biggest scandal to hit one of the world's most popular sports, FIA implicated McLaren's top driver on Friday and its test driver Pedro de la Rosa through a trail of e-mail exchanges.

"The e-mails show unequivocally that both Alonso and de la Rosa received confidential Ferrari information," FIA said in a 15-page explanation of the World Motor Sport Council's decision to fine McLaren a record US$100 million and expelled it from this year's constructors' championship.

"Both drivers knew that this information was confidential Ferrari information," it said.

The WMSC said it had documents showing the exchange of information between the two drivers and McLaren's then chief designer, Michael Coughlan, about the Ferrari car's weight distribution, flexible rear wing, a gas used to keep tire temperatures low and braking system.

Thursday's announcement of the fine and Friday's disclosure are the latest revelations in a case that erupted in July when a 780-page technical dossier on Ferrari cars was found at the home of Coughlan, who was later suspended.

Documents supplied

Ferrari mechanic Nigel Stepney, who allegedly supplied the documents, was fired.

While Alonso was added to the scandal on Friday, teammate and chief rival for the world championship - Lewis Hamilton - remained unaffected.

The e-mails showed how specific the knowledge just was.

"Hi Mike, do you know the Red Car's Weight Distribution? It would be important for us to know so that we could try it in the simulator. Thanks in advance, Pedro," FIA quoted De la Rosa's message to Coughlan as saying.

In another e-mail quoted by FIA, de la Rosa wrote to Alonso about a gaseous substance Ferrari was using to inflate its tires.

"We'll have to try it, it's easy," wrote de la Rosa.

FIA said Alonso replied: "Let's hope we can test it during this test, and that we can make it a priority!"

FIA said on Thursday it did not penalize McLaren's drivers because they provided evidence in exchange for immunity.

Alonso is second in the drivers' standings, three points behind rookie Hamilton with four races left entering Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

McLaren chief Ron Dennis claimed on Thursday the evidence given by his drivers, engineers and staff clearly demonstrated that his team did not use any leaked information to gain a competitive advantage.

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