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Dennis tipped off FIA about evidence


McLaren boss Ron Dennis effectively turned whistleblower against his own team in a spying controversy that cost them the Formula One constructors' title, he revealed on Friday.

McLaren were stripped of their 2007 constructors' points and fined a record $100 million on Thursday after a hearing of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) World Motor Sport Council.

In a statement issued after the governing body had revealed details of e-mails between his Spanish test driver Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso, Dennis was adamant McLaren had not used Ferrari intellectual property to gain any competitive advantage.

To reinforce the point, he added: "It's been recognised that McLaren has been open, co-operative and transparent throughout the entire process.

"I want to stress that once I became aware that new evidence might exist, which I did on the morning of the Hungarian Grand Prix (August 5), I immediately phoned the FIA to keep them informed," he said at the Belgian Grand Prix.

McLaren had escaped sanction at a hearing of the World Motor Sport Council in July which found that the team were in possession of unauthorised Ferrari information but could not prove they had benefited from it.

McLaren were warned at the time that if new evidence emerged, they could be kicked out of this and next year's championship.

The FIA announced on Sept. 5 that it had new evidence -- without saying where it had come from -- and reconvened the council that imposed the heavy penalty on McLaren.

Double world champion Alonso, whose relationship with the team and Dennis has become increasingly frosty, was stripped of pole position and demoted five places at the Hungarian Grand Prix for impeding championship-leading team mate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying.

Alonso and Hamilton were not on talking terms for the rest of the weekend and paddock sources said the angry Spaniard had talks with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone on the Saturday after qualifying.

The same sources said Alonso, who has been linked to a return to Renault, and Dennis also met on the Sunday morning in Hungary where the team boss became aware of the existence of the e-mails.

"All the information from Ferrari is very reliable. It comes from Nigel Stepney, their former chief mechanic - I don't know what post he holds now," De la Rosa e-mailed Alonso on March 25 in an exchange about the Ferrari's weight distribution.

"He's the same person who told us in Australia that Kimi (Raikkonen) was stopping in lap 18. He's very friendly with Mike Coughlan, our chief designer, and he told him that."

Coughlan was suspended by McLaren on July 3 after a 780 page dossier of Ferrari information was found at his home.


  © 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved
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