Briatore ‘puzzled’ by new spy saga timing

Sun, 11 November 2007, 10:25

Flavio Briatore has questioned the timing of the latest espionage saga that has cast a shadow over Renault’s preparations for the 2008 season.

When rumours of the Phil Mackereth case first emerged at the height of ‘Stepneygate’ in September, the Enstone based team “invited McLaren’s independent experts to come and assess the team’s computer systems and inspect the cars and the design records,” Renault revealed in its recent statement.

But while conducting an interview with team boss Briatore, a journalist for The Times says the Italian “seemed puzzled as to why McLaren had waited so long to make a formal complaint to the FIA, which they did this week”.

In the days leading up to Renault’s FIA summons, McLaren refugee Fernando Alonso was reportedly imminently close to agreeing a deal to return to the French team in 2008.

It is reported that McLaren had appointed the security firm Kroll to look into Renault’s systems, but Briatore said: “We were happy to let them inspect our computer … but they never took up the offer”.

Kroll did, however, visit Enstone at McLaren’s behest, and took back the floppy disks that had been taken to Renault by Mackereth.

It has also been reported that Kroll did indeed probe Renault’s computer system, with some 15 engineers found to have knowledge of Mackereth’s secrets.

But Briatore told The Times that he is not expecting a McLaren-like sanction at the World Motor Sport Council hearing next month, because – the newspaper said – “there was no flow of information from McLaren to Renault in this case, as had happened between Ferrari and McLaren”

He also said Mackereth’s old-style floppy disks could not compare with the 780-page Mike Coughlan dossier.

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