While British engineer Nigel Stepney is holidaying in the Philippines, Ferrari have decided to end his employment with the Formula One team following an internal investigation into his conduct. This news, while expected, coincides with a police investigation after the team alerted authorities when they found irregularities at the factory in Maranello prior to the Monaco Grand Prix last May.
Very little has been said about why an investigation has been launched, only that the team were concerned with his behaviour. It is no secret that Stepney wanted to take a sabbatical when Michael Schumacher stepped down from driving, and Technical Director Ross Brawn took a year out. The rumour mill is in hot pursuit of the story, and the word sabotage has been banded around a far bit in connection with the ongoing saga.
Stepney’s lawyer Sonia Bartolini has stated that when Nigel returns later this week, he will likely make a statement and work with authorities to prove his innocence.
And while the Scuderia are having fun with their senior staff, McLaren have suspended a senior member on their books. In a statement issued by the Woking-based squad, it seems that McLaren learned one of their key staffers received confidential information from a Ferrari employee earlier in the season. The individual – whom McLaren are not naming – is currently being investigated by Ferrari for industrial espionage.
McLaren became aware on 3rd July 2007 that a senior member of its technical organisation was the subject of a Ferrari investigation regarding the receipt of technical information.
The team has learnt that this individual had personally received a package of technical information from a Ferrari employee at the end of April. Whilst McLaren has no involvement in the matter and condemns such actions it will fully co-operate with any investigation. The individual has in the meanwhile been suspended by the company pending a full and proper investigation of the matter.
No further comment will be made. McLaren Press Statement.
So it’s all fun and games at the top end of the grid then!?