McLaren releases spy allegation details

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> McLaren has raised the stakes in Formula One's latest spy scandal by releasing details of its allegations against rival team Renault.

Updated: November 25, 2007 19:22 IST
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McLaren has raised the stakes in Formula One's latest spy scandal by releasing details of its allegations against rival team Renault.

Renault has been summoned to a December 6 hearing of the World Motor Sport Council in Monaco on charges of having "unauthorized possession of documents and confidential information" of McLaren cars between September 2006 and October 2007.

British newspapers on Friday quoted a memo leaked by McLaren's lawyers suggesting that Renault's activities were more serious than those that resulted in McLaren being fined a record US$100 million for possessing secret Ferrari documents.

"It is clear that McLaren's confidential design information was knowingly, deliberately and widely disseminated and discussed within the Renault F1 design and engineering team," McLaren's law firm, Baker McKenzie, said in a submission to the World Motor Sport Council.

The actions provided Renault "with a clear benefit and unfair advantage," the memo said.

Renault allegedly possessed engineering drawings and technical spreadsheets from McLaren that engineer Phil Mackereth brought to the French team when he moved from McLaren in September 2006.

Renault said it suspended Mackereth in September as soon as company officials learned of his actions and immediately alerted McLaren and governing body FIA.

The McLaren memo says that 33 files containing more than 780 individual drawings outlining the entire technical blueprint of the 2006 and 2007 McLaren F1 cars were copied onto 11 floppy disks in March 2006.

McLaren says the disks were loaded onto 11 Renault F1 computers in September 2006, when Mackereth joined Renault, and were discussed by up to 18 Renault F1 personnel, including a group of senior engineering chiefs and heads of department.

The memo labels as "absurd" Mackereth's claim that he kept confidential McLaren information for "sentimental reasons."

Renault has downplayed the importance of the technical information, saying it covered only four "basic systems," one of which was obsolete.

Renault acknowledged Mackereth had shown the data to other engineers but denied any of the information had influenced the design of the Renault car.

McLaren was fined and expelled from last season's constructors' championship in September after the FIA found the team guilty of using leaked secret data from Ferrari.

A 780-page technical dossier on Ferrari cars was found in McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan's home in July.

The allegations against Renault are potentially more serious, as Coughlan never loaded Ferrari material onto McLaren company computers.

If Renault is found guilty and handed the same penalty as McLaren, it's uncertain whether the team would be able to continue in F1.

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