German investigators have filed charges against three former Toyota Motorsport officials suspected of using technology stolen from Ferrari to test racing car aerodynamics, Cologne prosecutors told Reuters on Monday.
The unidentified officials are accused of violating German competition law by using a data analysis programme brought over by a technician who joined the Toyota Formula One team from Ferrari in early 2002, the prosecutors said in a statement.
The Toyota officials used the programme in 2002 and 2003 to develop race cars even though they knew the software had been obtained illegally, the statement said.
“Separate investigations into the former Ferrari staff member are being conducted in Italy and by Cologne prosecutors,” it added.
Toyota Motorsport had no immediate comment on the charges, which were lodged in December. A Cologne court that specialises in economic crimes will hear the case. No date has been set.
The Toyota Formula One team had their best year in 2005 since entering the sport in 2002.
The team, with drivers Ralf Schumacher and Italian Jarno Trulli, finished fourth, just 12 points adrift of Ferrari.
They also secured their first podium finishes and first pole positions.