Sunday, July 29, 2007

Todt: `I am bitter about it`

Ferrari team boss Jean Todt admits he's "bitter" about the WMSC's ruling regarding McLaren's part in the Stepneygate saga. Todt met with McLaren and the World Motor Sport Council for a six-hour long hearing in Paris on Thursday, following which the WMSC ruled that although McLaren were guilty of unauthorised possession of Ferrari documents, the Woking could not be punished as there was insufficient evidence to suggest they had made use of Ferrari's secrets. And Todt is not at all happy with the verdict.

"I am bitter about it: what happened yesterday is serious," he told Ferrari's website. "On the one hand a verdict of guilt was handed down and on the other, no sanctions were imposed. I cannot understand it. "During yesterday's meeting, the McLaren bosses, with no exceptions, admitted that their chief designer had obtained since back in March, prior to the Australian GP, documents from Nigel Stepney.
"Some of this data was used to prepare a clarification request submitted to the FIA, aimed clearly at us, given that throughout the Melbourne weekend, McLaren team principal and his closest colleagues made statements in which they threw doubt over 'some cars'. "Therefore, such information was in fact used to obtain an advantage over us: not through an improvement in their performance, but instead through limiting ours. "It is important to underline that the information used to try and damage Ferrari through the FIA might be only a part of the information received by McLaren. "In an attempt to justify its actions, McLaren has tried to claim the immunity normally accorded to a whistleblower in some legal systems.


"But it should be noted that usually, an informant or whistleblower goes to the competent authority to denounce something, whereas in this case he went to Ferrari's main rival who, and it is not us who say this but the FIA, took great care not to mention that the information was obtained in this way. "Let us move on. McLaren has confirmed that it has had to install a firewall to prevent further information from Stepney from reaching the team in the form of documents. Furthermore, Coughlan has been asked to tell the very same Stepney to stop sending him information. "It is a shame that before this, Coughlan asked [Stepney] for information on our brake balance system, then went to lunch with him in Spain, before calmly returning home with 780 pages of designs, diagrams, data and a whole lot more - as stated by the FIA release - with which to design, develop run and race a 2007 Ferrari Formula One car. "As confirmed in that decision yesterday, the violation was already there in the simple possession of the information, which in itself constitutes an enormous advantage in a sport like Formula One. "In Ferrari's opinion, it is like playing a hand of poker with a rival who already knows what cards you are holding. "It remains incomprehensible that apart from possession, one must also demonstrate the effective and visible use of this information on the McLaren car.


"Actually, this very same fact, on the basis of available information which the FIA used to find McLaren guilty, shows that the offence lies in the possession without the need to prove anything else. The proof is there and this led to the FIA's decision. Therefore I find it difficult to understand how the verdict makes sense. "Furthermore, I have to say that the proof of effective use requested by the FIA is impossible for Ferrari to furnish, because of course, Ferrari does not have access to the McLaren car. "A few weeks after the race in Melbourne, the McLaren team principal proposed that we should reach a sort of agreement to establish a better relationship between our two teams, thus avoiding any future denunciations to the sporting authority. "I replied that I found it impossible to believe him, because on several occasions we had seen that certain commitments had always been disregarded by McLaren. There was an exchange of views and, believing in their good faith, I agreed to sign this agreement on 9 June last. "Since that time and even earlier, McLaren was perfectly aware, not only of the emails sent by their informer within our company, but also of the fact that their chief designer had stayed in contact with him and had received and continued to be in possession of a significant amount of technical information that belonged to us.


"So, on the one hand, they had come to say 'let us trust one another', and on the other they were hiding serious facts such as those just stated above, but making no effort to inform us as would have been in the spirit and to the letter of our agreement. "Finally, it should be noted that yesterday's meeting was not an appearance before a tribunal, but a meeting of the FIA World Council, at which only McLaren was asked to respond to accusations and in which we were present only as observers. "Therefore there was no possibility to play an active role as we would have wished. I was only able to ask a few questions and reply to some, but we were not able to present our case nor the documents to support it. "This decision remains very disappointing and surprising. It is not acceptable to create a precedent in such an important case in which the guilty verdict for serious and persistent violation of the fundamental principle of sporting honesty does not automatically incur a penalty. "For our part, we will press on with the legal actions currently taking place in Italy and in England, and we do not rule out taking further action."


Source: Planet-F1