Following the nine hour hearing at the FIA headquarters in Paris, the World Motor Sport Council have changed their original verdict and now find McLaren guilty of the charges of industrial espionage. The Woking-based team have had their points stripped away and excluded from the 2007 campaign, and they have also been fined an unprecedented $100m (the largest ever imposed in motor sport history). The news comes as a shock to Formula One fans the world over, and of course also means that Ferrari have just about become the 2007 constructors champions, even though four races are still to run.
The banning of McLaren came after new evidence was found, and the case was re-opened to allow for this to be considered. World Champion and McLaren driver Fernando Alonso was asked to submit email correspondences between himself and test driver Pedro De La Rosa that allegedly show De La Rosa knew of the document that apparently had been given to Mike Coughlan from Nigel Stepney.
The WMSC has stripped Vodafone McLaren Mercedes of all constructor points in the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship and the team can score no points for the remainder of the season.
Furthermore, the team will pay a fine equal to $100m, less the FOM income lost as a result of the points deduction.
However, due to the exceptional circumstances in which the FIA gave the team’s drivers an immunity in return for providing evidence, there is no penalty in regard to drivers’ points.
The WMSC will receive a full technical report on the 2008 McLaren car and will take a decision at its December 2007 meeting as to what sanction, if any, will be imposed on the team for the 2008 season. FIA Statement.
Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso will still be able to duke it out for the drivers title as the ban for 2007 only prohibits McLaren from the constructors race. Fernando Alonso didn’t attend the hearing and has spent Thursday in the Spa Francorchamps paddock ahead of this weekends Belgian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton did attend in Paris, and left as soon as he was allowed to in order to join Alonso in the preparations. Fernando has been keeping quiet with regards to the media, refusing to speculate so far on the hearing.
I will post more later when all the news filters through and all the various people involved have spoken to the media. Needless to say though, Thursday 13th September 2007 was a dark day for Formula One. The whole saga has cost the sport dearly, the FIA have caused an enormous amount of damage and although the truth has apparently been found, the competition element of the sport has been lost.
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