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The FIA transcripts (Part 1) // Our first reactions to the McLaren hearing documents

Published by Mr. C

The two of us have been reading through the WMSC transcripts kindly posted on the FIA's website today. Thus far we've covered the first document which details the hearing in Paris on the 26th July, 2007.

Here are a couple of thoughts to be going on with, until we pluck up the courage to tackle the second one.

On Max Mosley

During this first meeting, Mosley seems incredibly clued up on details that wouldn't actually come to light until almost two months later. He managed this even though there wasn't any evidence at the time would have led him to those conclusions. The following comments in particular are interesting:

For example, for someone moving from Michelin tires to Bridgestone tires, it might have been useful to know the Ferrari weight distribution.


At the time you entered the gentleman's agreement, you were receiving a flow of information.

The second statement is denied by Ron Dennis, but we now know from Pedro de la Rosa's email exchange that both of the above assumptions to be correct. Information that only came to light after Alonso's threat to Ron in Hungary, eleven days later.

I also found the interaction between Mosley and Ferrari's lawyer Dr. Henry Peter somewhat rehearsed, for example:

Dr. Henry Peter

I just want to discuss the brake system issue. The newspapers and the chronology show that this is a very relevant issue. Ferrari's brake system, presented here as being of no interest in that it goes back to the old days of Ferrari’s FDD subsidiary in England, ten years ago. Mr Almondo can confirm this, if needed, but as everybody knows, the brake systems are entirely different today.

Max Mosley

Are you disputing the evidence that the brake system shown by Coughlan to Taylor was, for all practical purposes, the same hydraulic brake system that he played a part in designing ten years previously?

Was he disputing that Max? I wouldn't have inferred that, except that was exactly what Dr. Henry Peter was saying. And so it goes on. Maybe it's a lawyer thing?

Again note, this information turns out to be a surprisingly accurate account of facts that hadn't come to light yet. Although in Luigi Macaluso's letter to Max following this hearing, he does allude to the fact that Ferrari felt they hadn't had chance to voice all of their findings.

Maybe more information would have come out during the appeal (assuming Alonso hadn't fallen out with Ron in the meantime).

Ron Dennis

It's interesting to note that McLaren's lawyers were incredibly wary of falling into a trap, even to the point of fearing that viewing Ferrari evidence the FIA had circulated could hold them culpable. When questioned about the details of certain supplied information, the response was:

We asked whether it had been included accidentally, and were told that it was intentionally included. I did not see any express statement that Ferrari had given its permission for that information to be disclosed to McLaren

Nothing like not trusting the sports governing body is there?

Of further interest Ron suggests that 780 pages isn't that much information on a Formula 1 car when he says:

Any F1 car falls between 10,000 and 12,000 drawings.

Until I heard this, everything conveyed to the media by both Ferrari and the FIA led me to think a 780 page document was enough to build your own car from scratch. Of course this supposition may not have been intentional, I may just be a bit dense.

Ron's competitive streak runs so deep that he was prepared to suggest Ferrari's forensic team Quest were poorer than McLaren's chosen Kroll, when Ferrari suggested that the checking of Coughlan's PC was not yet complete Ron retorted:

I would like to point out that Kroll carried out the investigation within a period of six days.

While we're on the subject, you do have to ask how Kroll missed the Coughlan / de la Rosa emails when they apparently checked over 50,000 emails on Mike's machine? Although, Ron does say later on that they were specifically asked to check only for incoming traffic. At the time this would have appeared to be a sensible choice, but history has proven this to have been a somewhat shortsighted descision!

And finally

I liked Max's reference to the FIA being know as "Ferrari International Aid", so at least he's getting that message!

We have to ask... does this new found transparency set a precedent for all FIA hearing's or only those that McLaren lose? Just curious.

  • I just finished reading the first transcript (June 26th). I read fast, but it took me 2.5 hours because I was reading it very, very carefully.

    Indeed, the first thing that struck me as VERY ODD was that comment by Mosley regarding the weight distribution. The "Are you disputing the evidence..." statement just made me laugh. It was almost like Todt saying "I am sorry, I didn't understand what Ron Dennis just said about the firewall" and Mosley answering "Jean, are you trying to imply that Ron Dennis is a liar?, that he has been lying all this time?, that he himself stole information from Ferrari?, that instead of a firewall they hired an expert hacker to steal more information from you? That this guy sucks? That this team sucks?".

    Yeah, it was THAT BLATANT. But I am not even going to waste more time discussing the issue.

    Also, it is VERY EVIDENT how Mosley was VERY PREPARED to defend Ferrari when Ian Mill very cleverly pointed out that Ferrari should be punished also for the actions of their employee, and it was actually VERY FUNNY to read how Todt tried to escape the "do you agree that if McLaren information is found to be passed by Coughland to Stepney then Ferrari has to be judged in the exact way as McLaren?" question by just "spitting" a simple, stupid and ignorant asnwer like "I don't know, how could I know that?".

    It was precisely why Dennis and McLaren were being pursued in the first place, so I firmly believe that Ian Mill effectively won the first audience when he put Todt on that uncomfortable corner.

    I haven't read the second transcript (13 Sept.), however, I just took a quick glance at it and i DID NOT find Todt's name on it. Why do you think that is? It's very simple. It was actually Todt who screwed the first audience for Ferrari, and I am sure Montezemolo wasn't very impressed with that.

    I hope one of the positive outcomes of all this is that Todt leaves Ferrari by the end of the season. Yeah, that's right, that's how the Maranello boys treat their "heroes". Schu got the boot by the big boss to make way for the Iceman, and Todt will hopefully be given the boot too to give way for "yet another whining" guy like Ross.

    Somehow I suspect that when I have a chance to read through the second transcript I will find myself astonished with how perfectly the whole thing was planned from the very begining.

    More comments after I read the second one :)

  • just been pointed out to me that the FIA fixed the issue on their site, but it was too late to stop the leak!

    more information is available on the Autosport forums:

    view forums

    you can see the text by copying from the PDF into any text editor.

    words fail me...

  • You have some interesting reading ahead of you. But here's a thought to be going on with: Kroll and Quest missed the emails yet Alonso managed to produce them very soon after being asked for them. Why? Were they even in existence at the time the computer search was made? It wouldn't be the first time that forgeries have been made and how do you test for a forged email? I'm darned if I know and I bet the WMSC don't know either. But then, they wouldn't have to since they accepted the emails at face value. And they deem themselves competent to decide whether industrial espionage has taken place? Don't make me laugh.

  • you raise a good point clive. ron did say he asked Kroll to check for "incoming traffic" and then to check for data theft.

    i guess he never thought to check internal communications. as we point out in Part 2, he should've done that immediately after Alonso's outburst in Hungary.

    mail is very easy to forge, as it's purely text. especially internal mail. however, what would be Pedro's motive?

    SMS transaction logs from mobile providers would be harder to forge though.

  • I'm glad you mentioned motive, Sidey. Let us suppose that Alonso made an empty threat in his heated argument with Ron Dennis - just as was later asserted by Alonso's manager. But, having had time to think about it, Nando realises that he has stumbled upon an easy way out of his contract. If he can manufacture a few emails, he can give the FIA the proof they need. He has a word with his mate, Pedro, who agrees to be a part of the plan. Bingo, Nando has the emails and can mention them to Bernie.

    Understand, I am not saying that this did happen; I am putting it forward as a plausible possibility that should be disproved before the emails are accepted as proof of anything. Quite possibly, there are other scenarios that could result in forged emails being constructed. The point is that the WMSC did not even question the authenticity of the emails, they accepted them as read.

    You can say to me that Nando and Pedro would not be capable of such underhand dealing; yet I can reply that, according to the transcript, one of them is prepared to resort to blackmail in an attempt to force his employer to do as he wishes, the other is happy to use illicitly obtained information to better the performance of the McLaren car. If they are of such moral standing as to do these things, why is it impossible that they would resort to forgery to get what they want? The emails look like forgeries and are altogether too convenient for my taste - I would have asked that they be tested for authenticity the moment I saw Stepney's name being dragged rather awkwardly into one of them. Much, much too "made-to-order", if you ask me.

    The plain fact is the emails were accepted without question by the court. Pedro's sworn testimony that they represent normal exchanges between drivers receiving information from an engineer was disregarded in favor of Max's and Ferrari's inferences. That is the action of a kangaroo court, not a responsible body considering seriously a matter with the potential to ruin a defendant.

  • Oh, and the SMS messages. They were not used as evidence except to point out the number of them. Indeed, their content was not and is not known. Without that knowledge they prove nothing except what we already know - Stepney and Coughlan communicated. Big deal, what else is new?

  • i take your point Clive. i guess the thing we're missing here is the 3rd person involved in that email exchange, Mike Coughlan. at no point have we heard from him and he wasn't cross examined.

    the email exchange does sound slightly awkward, although that may be because, by all accounts they were written in Spanish and then translated for the hearing.

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