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Thu 20th Sep 22:23 2007: F1 Spying

wmsc-transcript-13-09-2007.pdf is an interesting document, should you come across it. It is the transcript of the 13th September 2007 FIA meeting which decided to fine McLaren (holds pinky finger to corner of mouth) $100m.

I won't include this image, but I'll link to it:

It's of particular interest because it's yet another case of blacking-out confidential information by adding a black bar above the text in the PDF; a simple copy/paste shows the infringing text.

It's also very long (115 pages), but occasionally amusing, such as this interview with Lewis Hamilton (the new kid in the team, who had nothing to do with the case, unlike his colleague, Fernando Alonso). MILL is McLaren's attorney; TOZZI is Ferrari's. MOSLEY is the President of the FIA.

Mr Hamilton, you have a copy of your statement in front of you. Please look at the second page. Is that your signature toward the bottom of this page?
It is.
Have you read this statement?
I have.
Are the contents true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Thank you.
Mr TOZZI, do you wish to ask any questions of Mr Hamilton?
I have no questions for Mr Hamilton.
Does anyone have any questions for Mr Hamilton?

Thank you very much, Mr Hamilton.
We are making very good progress!
I don’t think it will go on that way…

... It didn't!

Comments for 'F1 Spying'

Thu 20 Sep 2007 @ 22:52 GMT : Steve Parker
Interesting line from de la Rosa
Regarding engineers and drivers passing data between teams:

It was common practice in Formula 1. If that is wrong, then we are all wrong. That is what I have
been doing. I have been listening with all of our fellow drivers. I can give you lots of examples, if
you want. I don’t know what all of this is about. This is common practice. We talk about car setups,
rivals, etc., all day long. It is our passion. It is as simple as that. There is nothing else.
Thu 20 Sep 2007 @ 23:49 GMT : Steve Parker
c'mere c'mere... and there's more...
The material placed before the World Council has not been read by all of the World Council
members. Therefore, for the Members to understand, I would like to repeat what took place. That is entirely reasonable.
First, the relationship between Fernando and myself is extremely cold. That is an understatement.
In Fernando’s mind, there is the firm belief that our policy, whereby each driver receives equal
treatment, doe not properly reflect his status as World Champion.
Thu 20 Sep 2007 @ 23:54 GMT : Steve Parker
He hee, it keeps getting better:
After matters had calmed down with Mr Alonso and you were once again on speaking terms, you
did not ask him then…
We are not on speaking terms, but that does not matter.
Thu 20 Sep 2007 @ 23:58 GMT : Steve Parker
and better...
Why is Mr Alonso not here?
Mr Alonso is not here because he does not want to be here. He does not speak to anyone much. He
is a remarkable recluse for a driver. He is not here by choice. Moreover, he said he had other
things to do by previous arrangement. I cannot force him to come. We asked him to come.

I don't read the tabloid press, and I get the strong impression that the UK's ITV television team are uneasy with this whole issue, but this is cracking stuff. It certainly puts paid to any "Is Alonso likely to be at McLaren next year?" conversations!
Fri 21 Sep 2007 @ 23:29 GMT : Steve Parker
Page 71
Alonso showed the documents to Bernie Ecclestone!

There's another goodie on Pages 79-80, where Ferrari's TOZZI shows McLaren's TAYLOR a confidential Ferrari diagram, and asks if that is what (McLaren's) Couglhan had shown him. Taylor says "This is not the document that Mr Coughlan showed me", and Tozzi replies, "Perhaps you could hand that one back then!"

According to Neale, Coughlan's boss's boss, Coughlan then arranged for Stepney's emails to him to be blocked, and met Stepney to ask him to stop contacting him with his complaints against Ferrari. Suggests that Stepney was unhappy at Ferrari.

Ross Braun confirms that Coughlan worked for him "for a brief period at Ferrari", though he only admits to having interviewed him; it is possible, from the text, that Coughlan passed the interview and did work briefly at Ferrari some time around 2005/6.

Ferrari's closing statement:

I conclude with this. We suggest that the evidence before you now shows that the problems in McLaren did not have only to do with Mr Coughlan, though he held a very senior position there.
We now know that McLaren was infected in all sorts of other areas, by knowledge either of the fact that Coughlan was receiving this information, or quite possibly by use. That is sufficient, in our
submission, to impose a severe punishment, under Article 151c. Were you not to do so, that would
be a failure, effectively rendering Article 151c impotent as a clause. Sometimes, when a patient is sick, unpleasant medicine must be administered, for it is in the best interest of the patient. That is the position we are in today.

McLaren's closing statement:
With the greatest of respect, the question is not: can McLaren prove that it has not used Ferrari’s confidential information, but rather the opposite. Is it established, to the standard that the President himself suggested was appropriate, and that is a very high standard indeed, that we did use the information? Of course not. How can it? We are left with the suspicion that the President has, based on the slightly theatrical run-through of those pages, as he stood up and showed everyone the two files. The suspicion that there is probably something in there. Fine. Then the response is not bring us back here, let alone throw us out of the championships. Rather, you bring in Mr Whiting.
We have issued an invitation, and it remains on the table. Do not draw conclusions against us. Tell Charlie Whiting to go into McLaren to go into the organisation and not return until, having checked it from top to bottom, he is satisfied that no use has occurred. That has not happened; I don’t know why. I do, however, know that if you convict us today without the FIA having done that, that will be the grossest misjustice in my professional experience.
Sat 22 Sep 2007 @ 00:14 GMT : Steve Parker
Pages 103+ - Conclusions
More frustration; Ian Mill has already mentioned his lack of sleep, then - at the start of the conclusions:
Subject to instructions, how can I assist you? There are so many different possible decisions that you could have reached: we think that Mr Neale should not have turned a blind eye, being a
manager, and thus should be penalised.
This is such a waste of time
Or, at the other extreme, you may deem that the McLaren is riddled with Ferrari information. I will not help you if I make a submission about one end of the spectrum if you are not even considering that.

McLaren again:
Since I understand that the desirable course is to hear from me now, in what I maintain is an
unfortunate vacuum. On behalf of McLaren, we would invite you not to exclude McLaren, either
from this championship or next year’s championship, for a number of reasons. In the first place, we simply cannot accept that our car is or that our car in the future will be infected with confidential information from Ferrari. In those circumstances, to eject us from the Championship would be completely disproportionate.
Secondly, we would ask you to accept the information from our witnesses, even if you think there is any possibility that you will find that the information has been used. We have not come here to mislead you and try to deny what has occurred. Therefore, do not remove us from the
Championship, for that would simply be far too harsh a result. There are comments that others can make better than I can about the impact on the Championship of our exclusion. It would be, in the lowest terms, very very unfortunate. It is a great Championship this year and next year’s may be equally great. If we are not present, it would potentially do great damage to the sport, for those who participate in it and those who watch it. We want to be there and, if there is any way we can be there, then we will do it.
Find a way to keep us in there, please. I am not going to make submissions to draw any distinction
between the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ Championships. If anyone should, that would be Mr
Phillips. I want, if we are indeed in the cataclysmic situation to which you alluded, you to hear the words of Mr Dennis and Mr Haug, on how they feel about this, from the heart.
I will go first.

I am known to ramble, so I will try to keep this as short and unemotional as possible. I have
dedicated my life to motor sport. Every team principal has written or spoken to me about the
process and situation I am in. I am not in the situation by choice or design, but because of the
actions of one rogue employee. Everybody knows that is a fact. I don’t think that anyone doubts
that what took place was between two individuals, who acted independently of their companies.
Both did incredibly stupid things that have involved their companies in such an unbelievable mess that it is just hard to believe that something so huge could have manifested itself out of that mess.
I believe that nobody, not even Ferrari, thinks that any part of our car is the result of their design work or anything. I know they are upset and that they even feel that we should be severely punished. However, punishing 1 300 people and my lifetime’s work for the action of one individual is extremely severe.
I understand that you could say that I am responsible, because I am the boss. That would, again, be severe, because it is impossible for me to take responsibility for the actions of everyone, especially when those actions are in homes and when individuals are communicating with friends, etc. Again, I had no knowledge of anything. I have spoken the truth throughout this. I made phone calls to the FIA and Ferrari as and when information became available. I compromised myself, Max, by calling you in Hungary, but I told the truth. Anything you choose against the company will be severe, even if it is only guilt of employing a rogue employee. If there is a punishment, let it fit the crime.
Thank you very much, Ron.

I've always liked Ron Dennis, but I am inclined to believe him. Such sincerity can only come from the innocent, or from the most experienced actor.

So what did Mr Mosley conclude?

Let me simply set the scene, so that there is no doubt. Were we to exclude McLaren from this year’s championship, the FIA’s precedent in 1984 is such that, for all practical purposes, it would be as though the team had never entered.
It follows from that the drivers’ points would disappear as well. McLaren’s drivers, however, have received indemnity, and were told they would not be the subject of proceedings. Were we to
exclude McLaren from the 2007 Championship, the drivers would lose the points so far accumulated, but would be free to race for whomever they pleased and their superlicense would not
be affected. This would apply as well in 2008, were McLaren to also be excluded there.
Only once in our entire history did we separate the drivers’ points from the manufacturers’ points.
It was in Brazil, in a matter related to fuel. The fuel used in the car was not in conformity with the sample submitted. Therefore, there was an offence. It was subsequently tested and it turned out that, had the fuel in the tanks been tested, it would have passed. Thus, the drivers were deemed to have no conceivable benefit from that and their points were not taken away. I felt this was just, but the decision was largely criticised by the teams and I was told we must never do this again. In this case, if McLaren had an advantage, so did the drivers. If they were excluded, there could be no question of the drivers’ keeping their points.

So Max Mosley concluded what many of us commoners surmised - that if the McLaren car was "dodgy" (for want of a better word), then the drivers' wins in that car were equally dodgy, and should be discounted.

Lewis Hamilton's attorney then made the following plea:
Lewis Hamilton has done nothing wrong. He has driven brilliantly and is leading the Drivers’ Championship by 3 points. If McLaren were banned from competing in the remaining races, Lewis Hamilton would not be able to compete in the final four races. He would lose the points that he has so brilliantly won over the last few months, to the sheer delight and excitement of millions of ordinary motor racing fans.,,,

Of course, if you do eject McLaren from the 2007 and 2008 Championships, the consequence will
be that Ferrari will certainly win this year’s championship and probably that of next year. It would leave the Formula 1 to be decided by four races, in which one of the two top teams, if not the top
team, would not be competing. It would be an absolute disaster for Formula 1. The public would
lose all confidence in the sport that we all love. It would also be a disaster for Ferrari. As a third party and avid motor sport fan, it begs disbelief that Ferrari could seriously want to see McLaren ejected. Their victories would be as hollow as the ones we saw in Indianapolis 2005. We respectfully suspect and suggest that racers like Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa would feel
cheated if they were to win the World Championship after their two main rivals had been thrown out....
As for the teams’ points in the Manufacturers’ Championship, we would leave it to McLaren to
justify why those should be retained. However, we would observe that stripping McLaren of the
manufacturers’ points, leaving Ferrari to win that championship in the most hollow of victories..... Where Lewis Hamilton is concerned, let him get back to the track,
to become the first rookie world champion in Formula 1 history.

As for the "FIA in Ferrari's pocket", Max Mosley commented, "How could I look Raikkonen in the eye and tell him that other drivers, benefiting not only from their own manufacturer’s technology, but also that of Ferrari [won the championship]. He would say that this is indeed very unfair." This is the only time that Max has played the emotion card (and let's face it, Kimi isn't the most emotional character on the grid!)

Hamilton's counsel then goes on to say:
If there had indeed been wholesale transfer of technology from one team to another, you are postulating a circumstance in which you are satisfied that the car used by Driver A is a hybrid Ferrari. Were that the case, I can well see that you would reach the point where it would be justified to exercise the most extreme sanction.
However, there is a range of sanctions, and you decision will depend on the degree to which the
Council has been satisfied that there probably has been an advantage. In my respectful submission, the evidence of an advantage is non-existent. The evidence of a possibility of an advantage is very weak. Against that background, you must start from the top – ejection – work through points, then down to financial penalties. I have not mentioned the latter, but the fact of the matter is that the McLaren business is a large and wealthy one. A very strong point can be made that the public would understand if you considered only a financial penalty without any alteration the championship, considering that, in this context, you cannot go beyond a suspicion that there may have been an advantage.
[World Motor Sport Council debate behind closed doors, from 17:35 to 18:40, to determine

So - Max Mosley's conclusion:
The Sporting Code (Article 152) provides that removal of the manufacturers’ points also entails removal of the drivers’ points, barring exceptional circumstances. We believe that to be the case in that the drivers were given immunity; they therefore will not lose their points. Therein lies the exceptional circumstance. It is our belief that, without making that offer to the drivers, we would
not have received the information that we had today. The drivers may continue to score point. If there is a podium, the drivers will go on it, but not McLaren. Furthermore, the other
manufacturers’ points remain as they are: the McLaren points gained thus far will disappear, and the rest of the places and money will be calculated on that basis.

It seems rather as if Hamilton's attorney held the final sway; it's impossible to say without having been at the meeting, but having the transcript must be the next best thing. It would appear that - with the main offender (Alonso) abstaining, and the innocent driver providing an attorney at the cruical moment, that the entire decision was made on the basis of the final few minutes of the day.

Regarding any possible changes to the 2008 car that may be mandated by the FIA, Ron Dennis asked that it be ASAP:

I know this may not be the forum, but it is easier to ask my question now, as we are face-to-face:
would you agree that the most likely point at which this sort of data would be present in the
company is now?
We would like the inspection as quickly as possible, subject only to the rules of engagement, so that we can prepare for it, the period of time, etc.
It does not actually matter. Suppose you are eliminating large amounts of information. That
information would by definition not be used on the car. It would not matter. Nevertheless, we
would like to complete this as quickly as we can, but let us not underestimate the magnitude of the
I do not fear the task at all.
We do.
I care only about the McLaren name. Once that inspection has been proven to be devoid of
anything that could possibly be related to Ferrari intellectual property, I would like that in the public domain as quickly as possible.
Let us cross that bridge when we come to it.
Sat 22 Sep 2007 @ 00:16 GMT : Steve Parker
I have been known to ramble, myself, but that is the end of my redux of the statement.

Oh - in case you were wondering; the most commonly-obscured word was "valve". The rest were probably "front", "back", "brake bias", and "the".

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