Bernie was source of spy email tip-off

Wed, 19 September 2007, 08:32

A number of new details about the espionage saga emerged with the publication of the World Motor Sport Council transcripts on Wednesday.

In the 13 September hearing, which resulted in McLaren’s constructors’ championship exclusion and record $100m fine, it emerged that Bernie Ecclestone may also have been involved in informing the FIA about the incriminating emails between Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso.

Previously, it was believed that Ron Dennis tipped off the FIA after what he believed had been an empty threat issued by reigning world champion Alonso during a heated argument in Hungary.

The 26-year-old Spaniard was subsequently described as an extortionist in the world’s press.

But Dennis suggested in Paris that “Bernie said that he may have seen something” and that he “would pass it to Max (Mosley)”.

“I do not know what that is,” the McLaren boss added. “I do know that Bernie said it was in Spanish, but I do not know how this material came to the knowledge of the FIA,” he added, also in the presence of Ecclestone, who is F1’s chief executive.

Nigel Tozzi, a lawyer acting for Ferrari, soon cleared up the mystery, jointly crediting the emergence of the emails to both Ecclestone and Alonso.

“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,” he said.

Elsewhere in the transcripts, when it was clear that exclusion from the 2007 and 2008 championships was a real threat for McLaren, engine partner Mercedes-Benz’s Norbert Haug spoke about the impact that it would have on formula one.

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