In an attempt to fulfill his team’s promise of speedy closure on the Stepneygate saga that has gripped Formula One for the past six months, McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh yesterday offered a full and unreserved apology to the FIA, Ferrari and the Formula One community. The team sent a letter to the FIA and published a copy on their official website, explaining that they didn’t realise just how much the information from Ferrari had spread through the team and that they were holding back on developing certain systems in the near future.
To avoid even the possibility of Ferrari information influencing our performance during 2008, McLaren has offered a set of detailed undertakings to the FIA which will impose a moratorium on development in relation to three separate systems.
McLaren wish to make a public apology to the FIA, Ferrari, the Formula One community and to Formula One fans throughout the world and offer their assurance that changes are now being made which will ensure that nothing comparable to what has taken place will ever happen again. McLaren have also agreed to pay the costs incurred by the FIA for their investigation.
McLaren now wishes to put these matters behind it and to move forward focusing on the 2008 season. McLaren Statement.
In response to the team’s apology, the FIA has requested the WMSC cancel the planned February meeting and work at closing the saga earlier than planned; something that can only be a good thing for Formula One as a whole.
Considering Ron Dennis stated at the Belgian Grand Prix last September, immediately after the meeting that saw the punishment handed out, that he wanted closure on the issue as soon as possible, I am very surprised it has taken this long for an apology. While McLaren may be cooperating with Ferrari and the FIA to their fullest, a simple “sorry” can go a very long way to mending bridges. And it isn’t just bridges with the governing body that McLaren need to work on. This torrid affair has damaged the sport. For sure it has aroused interest in Formula One, and certainly the sport may have gained new fans for it. But for those who had respect for the Woking team, saw integrity in the FIA and gained enjoyment from supposedly watching honest teams doing battle with each other on a reasonably level playing field; the sport has been tarnished. The apology is welcomed, but overdue.
In the light of McLaren’s public apology and undertakings, the FIA President has asked the members of the World Motor Sport Council for their consent to cancel the hearing scheduled for 14 February 2008 and, in the interests of the sport, to consider this matter closed. FIA Statement.
A response from the WMSC will hopefully be made next week.
Ferrari have also offered a response to McLaren’s apology, and while they are accepting it, the Italian team is intending to press ahead with legal action
Ferrari notes the apology offered today by the McLaren Group, following the investigations carried out by the FIA Technical Department, as presented to the WSMC on 7th December.
In the light of McLaren’s apology and the guarantees it has presented, Ferrari respects the proposal of the FIA President to cancel the extraordinary general meeting of the WSMC scheduled for 14th February coming, thus bringing this incident to a close from a sporting point of view. However, it is confirmed that criminal actions underway in Italy and civil ones in England are still continuing. Ferrari Statement.
Hopefully that matter can be closed and the Ferrari legal action can quietly continue in the background – it does seem Ferrari do not want to let the matter drop entirely at this point.
This saga needs to be closed. It needs to be finalised before the 2008 season and every team up and down the grid need to understand that this behaviour not only harms themselves, their teams and their reputations, but also the sport as a whole.