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The FIA transcripts (Part 2) // More details and reactions from the McLaren hearings

Published by Mr. C

Yesterday we covered the document relating to the first WMSC hearing. Today we spent time reading through the second transcript, this time from the Paris hearing on the 13th September, 2007.

Before getting into the details, it's worth mentioning that yesterday afternoon we received a SMS message suggesting that the FIA hadn't done such a great job of obfuscating the confidential information that they made such a fuss about on Monday. We couldn't follow the instructions because the FIA had fixed the mistake before we got there, luckily there are rogue copies available if you look hard enough.

The FIA haven't as yet made any official announcement about the mistake, and oddly none of the leading "news" sites are running the story. The revelations aren't actually that damning, but it is massively embarrassing for the FIA, who now have to deal with a rogue (or at least slightly stupid) employee of their own.

Anyhow, back to business. Here are a few thoughts from reading the second document.

Mr. Max Mosley

The first thing that jumps right out of the page, and is something highlighted on Forumula1.net, is a comment by Max relating to rules and regulations:

Someone can be 1mm over with their wing, or half a kilo over or under with their weight, and thereby be disqualified.

That's pretty funny, because back in 1999 when Ferrari were found to be running illegal bargeboards, that were so far oversize as to be visible to the naked eye, the FIA overturned a previous descision by race stewards to disqualify Ferrari. At the time Max didn't agree with that choice, so I guess he's keen to make his point whenever he can.

Ferrari

Next up, is an email from Stepney to Coughlan back in March, Nigel suggests there was more to Ferrari's illegal floor than first meet the eye (emphasis ours):

At the same time, the turning vanes also move. The front floor is about 100 cm long, so it is quite an effective device, also as mentioned in my previous e-mail, as a mass damper, because it helps in this mode to control the arrow and keep the front tyre contact patch.

That's a pretty damning statement (although we don't know if what he says is true), and it suggests that not only was the floor movable, but that other parts of the car were too. The fact that the floor could have been used as a Tuned Mass Damper is unreal, given that was the very thing the FIA banned mid-way through last season. I guess if you're going to break one rule, you may as well break them all, eh?

During the hearing a lot of emphasis was put on the fact that Ferrari employ a brake system that applies load to front brakes first, then gradually to rears. This can be adjusted by the driver in the cockpit using a lever. It'll be interesting to see if any cars mimic this behaviour now that this information is in the public domain.

Co2 is the exciting gas that Ferrari apparently use in their tyres. That's a pretty dull revelation, not exactly exotic is it? Of interest though was Pedro's comment regarding a conversation with the team's tyre engineer:

I went to our Bridgestone engineer and asked him whether other teams had been using this. Usually, the engineers there are able to tell you about such details, compared to other teams, having a report after every race.

I thought rubber data was sacrosanct? If the tyre guys openly discuss competitors, what hope does any team have of maintaining confidentiality? A "report" no less.

While on the subject of Bridgestone, Ross Brawn's appearance led us to learn that apart from being supremely competitive, Bridgestone's 2006 tyre was a pain in the backside to manufacture.

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton went all the way to Paris... spoke only five words... left again. Love to see that guys carbon footprint!

More importantly though, Ferrari's lawyer, when questioning Pedro, revealed a unique method of figuring out weight distribution:

You even go to the extent, when cars are lifted on cranes, of performing image analysis to determine the car's weight distribution, do you not?

That's ingenious. Admittedly not as quick as phoning Nigel and asking him, but ingenious all the same. The same lawyer also revealed a little more as to how the FIA obtained information about the contents of Alonso's inbox (Ron clearly alerted Max, but believed there to be nothing incriminating):

If Alonso had not shown the documents to Mr Ecclestone, and Mr Ecclestone had not alerted Mr Mosley, who then wrote to the drivers, we would not have found out about these e-mails. Is that not so?

So one has to ask, what prompted Alonso to tell Bernie?

Ron Dennis has shown supreme naivety if he believed Alonso when he said he had condemning information, and then he believed him when he later turned around and said that he didn't! Given the money McLaren were paying Kroll anyway, how hard could it have been to ask them to check the Spanish man's PC?

One poignant fact we learned from Jonathan Neale, was Mike Gascoyne (he of Spyker), was in the same restaurant during the infamous Barcelona meet-up between Coughlan and Stepney.

Must be one hell of a menu.

In conclusion

Hurried. That's the feeling you take away from reading through the second transcript. Probably the most significant day in the history of Formula 1, and the whole hearing is rushed through like there's no tomorrow. At one point Max was actually quoted as saying:

I am fearful that we are not able see all the witnesses before a few people must leave for flights.

Flights? Who booked flights?

There was too much evidence to be heard and too little time to prepare anything. Given the severity of the penalty handed down, doesn't that seem a bit strange? Max again, this time later in the proceedings:

I would have a lot to say about this, but we do not have time.

McLaren's lawyer alludes to the same thing when he concludes:

In other situations, not before this sporting body, a much greater period of time would have been given, and far greater time set aside for this matter to be dealt with.

He's not wrong there. Did the FIA (and by virtue Formula 1 as a whole), rush headlong into one of the biggest decisions in its history, without the singular thought to maybe, slow down a little?

If you do nothing else today, I encourage you to check out Clive's post relating to the transcripts. He's less interested in the details than we are, but has a very insightful take of the legality of the WMSC's imposed penalties.

Before we go, it's probably worth ending with a quote from McLaren lawyer Ian Mill:

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.




  • Thanks for the mention, Sidey; much appreciated.

    You may be right that I am not as interested in the details as others are - I still haven't checked to see how much Coughlan was being paid at McLaren. But I like to start at the beginning and end at the end. It seemed to me that there were fundamental problems with the behaviour and conduct of the WMSC that needed looking at before we got to the details. Since no-one else was doing that, it fell to me, I guess.

    I am aware of the details, however, and, were I writing a book rather than a blog, I would have got into them too. They are being adequately and excellently covered by other blogs such as your own so perhaps my contribution would have been a bit superfluous anyway.

    Or maybe I can write more about the matter in the days and weeks to come... ;)

  • the fact that until now (and it is Saturday already) we still can't see any main F1 sites even mentioning the mess up with the release of the transcripts is really strange...

  • Are we not main F1 sites, Wolfie? I am devastated. :D

  • now when we are so much ahead game, sure we are :-)

    I am soo sorry for devastating you Clive :-)

  • Totally biased meeting, why was Stepney not allowed to balance the arguments ? Only Max spoke from the WMSC when there are over 25 others attending the hearing very strange ! I think the brake balance system should work the other way round, shows how much they know !

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