Mclaren Says No Ferrari Elements in Team

by : Anthony Fontanelle

Following the earlier news that a McLaren engineer was suspended in connection with alleged theft of Ferrari's technical information, the British team has issued a second statement regarding the matter.

"McLaren has completed a thorough investigation and can confirm that no Ferrari intellectual property has been passed to any other members of the team or incorporated into its cars," read Wednesday's press release. "McLaren has in the meanwhile openly disclosed these matters to the FIA and Ferrari and sought to satisfy any concerns that have arisen from this matter. In order to address some of the speculation McLaren has invited the FIA to conduct a full review of its cars to satisfy itself that the team has not benefited from any intellectual property of another competitor."

The FIA, Formula One racing's governing body, has also said that they are launching a formal investigation into the issue. Meanwhile, the FIA noted that the remit of their inquiry would concentrate solely on the requirements of the Formula One regulations and the International Sporting Code.

On Tuesday, Ferrari confirmed that they have presented a legal case against former employee Nigel Stepney, and the McLaren engineer, which media reports are claiming to be Chief Designer Mike Coughlan, Stepney's former colleague.

Like the , the theft allegation of the Scuderia team is full of twists. In an unexpected twist, the team also revealed that a member of the rival McLaren team is also involved in the investigation.

"Ferrari announces it has recently presented a case against Nigel Stepney and an engineer from the Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes team with the Modena Tribunal, concerning the theft of technical information," read a statement from Ferrari. "Furthermore, legal action has been instigated in England and a search warrant has been issued concerning the engineer. This produced a positive outcome. Ferrari reserves the right to consider all implications, be they criminal, civil or of any other nature, according to the applicable laws."

Conversely, McLaren has this to say: "McLaren became aware on the third July 2007 that a senior member of its technical organization was the subject of a Ferrari investigation regarding the receipt of technical information. The team has learnt that this individual had personally received a package of technical information from a Ferrari employee at the end of April."

The team added, "Whilst McLaren has no involvement in the matter and condemns such actions it will fully cooperate with any investigation. The individual has in the meanwhile been suspended by the company pending a full and proper investigation of the matter."

The exact details of the case have not been disclosed, but Stepney, who is no longer an employee of Ferrari, has maintained he is innocent. Stepney said that he is at the heart of "a dirty tricks campaign." A criminal investigation has been launched against Stepney earlier this week. The legal proceedings will take place in Modena, Italy.

Stepney, though, insists he has done nothing wrong. "I have confidence I'll be cleared by the legal process that is now taking place," he said. "It is just part of a dirty tricks campaign and everything is in the hands of my lawyer, so we'll wait and see what happens."

Stepney, who is currently on holiday in the Philippines with his family, is puzzled as to claims by Ferrari and the Italian police that they have been unable to contact him. "I'm on a planned holiday with Ash (his fiancee) and our baby. Why would anyone say I am not contactable? I booked the flights through the Ferrari travel office. They know where I am," the Briton noted.