Briatore denies involvement in latest spy twists

Sat, 8 September 2007, 03:47

Flavio Briatore has rejected rumours that he tipped off the FIA about McLaren drivers’ possession of evidence about the espionage scandal.

While it is believed that Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa gave up pertinent emails about Mike Coughlan’s possession of the 780-page Ferrari dossier, it remains unclear how the FIA found out about the existence of the emails in the first place.

26-year-old Alonso is one possible suspect, with him thought to be trying to escape from the clutches of his unhappy three-year tenure at the British team. He told a Spanish newspaper on Friday that the speculation was “lies”.

Also in the frame is Briatore, the Renault boss who would benefit from McLaren’s exclusion from the 2007 and 2008 championships, including probably reuniting the French squad with its recent twice title winner.

But the Italian told the Swiss newspaper Blick: “I have nothing to do with it.”

The newspaper Diario As, however, claims that Renault has now delayed announcing its drivers for 2008 at Monza this weekend, given the recent developments in the spy affair.

Nelson Piquet Jr is understood to have told some of his Brazilian media friends here that the hold-up relates to the upcoming meeting of the World Motor Sport Council.

Briatore, meanwhile, was spotted coming out of the McLaren motor home on Friday following a ten minute meeting with Ron Dennis.

It is understood that he also got together at Monza with Dennis, Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt.

McLaren chairman Dennis has refused to speak with the press about the latest accusations at Monza, but he did conduct an off-the-record briefing on Friday with some journalists he trusts the most and reportedly came close to tears.

An FIA spokesman, however, rejected the resultant message in British newspapers that the espionage affair is akin to a ‘witch hunt’ waged by Ferrari and the sport’s governing body.

“Under the circumstances, the suggestion that the FIA’s ongoing investigation is about anything other than the pursuit of sporting fairness demonstrates a blinding refusal to accept the basic facts,” the spokesman told the Times.

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