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McLaren cleared but it's far from over - The FIA find the Woking team guilty but the punishment is easy

Published by Christine

This article was originally written for BellaOnline, but is republished here for posterity.

Although the story hasn’t been around that long – a couple of months at most – the idea of McLaren spying on Ferrari has captured the Formula 1 fanbase. Bloggers, media and casual onlookers have all been quick to judge and form opinions based on any information that is released.

The whole saga was building up to last Thursday’s hearing – when McLaren were to show up in front of the FIA, tell their side of the story and receive their punishment.

Well, it turns out that the FIA found McLaren guilty of having the 780 page document full of technical details about Ferrari engineering, but with little evidence to prove they have done anything with the insider information, there was nothing they could do about it. No points were docked, no championships stripped, everything just continues as normal.

Of course, the story doesn’t end there. In fact, the story pretty much started the minute the verdict was read out. Ferrari were not at all happy with the result of Thursday’s hearing, and released several press releases on the subject. McLaren answered. Now everything is coming out of the woodwork.

Former Ferrari driver Mika Salo was quoted as saying that when he drove for the team in the ‘90s, they used to monitor McLaren’s in-car radio all the time. He couldn’t understand what the fuss was about. Ferrari later issued a statement on Salo’s behalf that basically retracted the statement.

One of the members of the FIA, who attended the hearing, and voted on the outcome is an Italian Ferrari fan, Mr Macaluso. He actually runs a business that sells Ferrari branded watches. You can completely understand that he would not have been as unbiased as you would hope, and later on he was spotted saying that he thought McLaren were completely guilty. The FIA had told us that the vote had been unanimous but Mr Macaluso is making that seem a very suspicious outcome.

The original cause of the problem Nigel Stepney, the Ferrari employee who was sacked and investigated by his team, has been very tight-lipped on the entire subject. But he in turn has been summoned to face the wrath of the FIA. He says he knows a lot of secrets that some people (some teams) may not want to be revealed to the world. The rest of us, however, are waiting with baited breath to see what else we can find out.