Renault team principal Flavio Briatore says he is confident his team will not be punished when it appears before the FIA's World Motor Sport Council next month to answer charges that it has possessed confidential McLaren design information for the past year.
In an interview with The Sunday Times the Italian insisted that the circumstances were not comparable to those of McLaren, which was fined up to $US100m and had its 2007 constructors' points revoked for holding confidential Ferrari documentation.
Briatore told the newspaper that rather than this being a flow of information as in the case of McLaren, his team found itself in possession of the material because - unknown to senior staff - former McLaren engineer Phil Mackereth brought with him the propriatary information on floppy disks when he joined the team in September 2006.
“When we found out in September , we talked with this guy [Mackereth], we started an investigation and immediately suspended the guy and then immediately we informed McLaren and the FIA,” said Briatore, adding that Mackereth would be dismissed.
“We gave to [FIA president Max] Mosley all the correspondence and the evidence and a statement from our engineers making clear we never used any McLaren system in our car.”
“The information was in the computer, it was in the disks that this guy brought.
“It was very simple. It was a drawing of a few systems, it was part of a drawing of the gearbox and was part of a drawing of a mass-damper.
"I am confident the information was not used and not only me."
Reports in the press suggest that as many as 15 Renault engineers may have seen the drawings but Briatore remains adamant that none of the information found its way on to either the 2006 or 2007 Renault F1 cars.
"We have witness statements from every engineer that was involved and, categorically, everybody says that there was no influence of any of these things on the design of our car,” he said.
Briatore also questioned why it took so long for McLaren to request an FIA hearing on the matter [which it did last week] when it had indicated during the September 'Spy-gate' hearings that it knew about Renault's possession of the information.
“We were happy to let them inspect our computer," said Briatore of the inpedendant investigators Kroll, hired by McLaren to look into the situation.
"We wanted to give McLaren the opportunity to check that there was no influence on the design of our car, but they never took up the offer."