Mclarens Image in Question

By: Anthony Fontanelle

After the controversial Monaco Grand Prix where McLaren was suspected of implementing team orders, the FIA investigated the team. And more recently, the Formula One's ruling body is once again investigating McLaren - this time, concerning industrial espionage wherein Ferrari has divulged that one of their employees is passing confidential data to McLaren.

The British Formula One team has already been summoned by the FIA to answer questions surrounding the controversy. McLaren's chief designer Mike Coughlan was found in possession of documents owned by Ferrari.

FIA has released a statement connected with the scandal saying: "The team representatives have been called to answer a charge that between March and July 2007, in breach of article 151c of the international sporting code, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes had unauthorized possession of documents and confidential information belonging to Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, including information that could be used to design, engineer, build, check, test, develop and/or run a 2007 Ferrari Formula One car."

This, of course, has put McLaren's image on the line. The British team has protected its image and is now in danger of being tarnished due to the allegations of spying. The FIA has summoned McLaren to appear in a World Motor Sport Council four days after the European Grand Prix. Being partners with high profile companies such as Vodafone and Mercedes-Benz which provides the team with engines and other racing parts such as the and the like, McLaren has a duty to protect its image.

The team though has been defended by David Coulthard who spent time driving for McLaren during the times of Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher. He was noted to be saying: "The companies that invest in F1 see any whiff of insider trading on technology as a taboo subject."

In reaction to the FIA's summon, McLaren issued a statement which says: "McLaren is extremely disappointed to note that it has been asked by the FIA to answer a charge of being in possession of certain documents and confidential information belonging to Ferrari."

"Whilst McLaren wishes to continue its full co-operation with any investigation into this matter, it does wish to make it very clear that the documents and confidential information were only in the possession of one currently suspended employee on an unauthorized basis and no element of it has been used in relation to McLaren's Formula One cars," McLaren continued.

Some experts though are on McLaren's side. It is a known fact that Ferrari and McLaren took different approaches to the game and of course in developing a fast car for the season. With that in mind, stealing some design for components from Ferrari will be virtually useless for McLaren. This is because they have a different car than Ferrari. And in this sport where a millimeter off would mean loosing or winning a race, integrating Ferrari's components into McLaren's cars would be useless indeed.

On the face of this scandal, McLaren's rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton is in danger of being expelled from the competition for the championship since the FIA is stern that if a team has committed a violation, the drivers should be punished too. This may have dashed Hamilton's quest to become the first rookie to win a championship, a feat achieved only by Giuseppe Farina who won the first championship of the sport. Hamilton currently led all drivers in points and McLaren also leads the constructors' championship standings.

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