Bernie gets involved in new spy scandal

Sat, 10 November 2007, 11:42

Bernie Ecclestone, F1’s chief executive, called a crisis meeting on Friday as a new spying scandal broke out.

The 76-year-old, who is a close business partner and friend of Flavio Briatore, summoned key members of the formula one fraternity to his London office as Renault admitted to recently possessing secret information belonging to McLaren.

The Daily Telegraph reported that each team except Renault, Ferrari and McLaren – the three involved in spying scandals – attended Ecclestone’s meeting, to “establish the nature and full extent of espionage within F1 and cut out the cancer at source”.

At first glance, the new Renault case appears potentially worse than ‘Stepneygate’, due to the length of the possession and the detailed nature of the secrets.

In a press statement issued on Friday, Renault said the rogue engineer in question – former McLaren employee Phil Mackereth who took floppy disks of information to his new team – has been suspended.

Renault said the information had been loaded onto the team’s computer system “without the knowledge of anyone in authority”, but that Mackereth made “some of our engineers aware” of the secrets.

The Telegraph claims that officials even as high-ranking as “the chief designer, deputy chief designer, deputy technical director, head of research and development and the head of vehicle performance” saw them.

Renault, however, insists that although some engineers were “briefly shown” the drawings, the McLaren information was not “used to influence design decisions relating to the Renault car”.

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