While all eleven teams are preparing for the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, the sports governing body, the FIA, have finally revealed the evidence they gained that led to McLaren’s extraordinary exclusion from the 2007 World Championship and its hefty fine of $100m. The FIA have confirmed what many suspected, that emails, telephone calls and text messages between the parties involved and the McLaren drivers proved that it wasn’t just Mike Coughlan who was aware of the contents of the confidential information passed to him from Nigel Stepney.
In the published extracts of the emails, it is clear to see that Pedro De La Rosa (McLaren’s experienced test driver) spoke with Coughlan even before the season started in March, and after the Australian Grand Prix he requested specific details about the weight distribution of the Ferrari. The intention was to run tests in a simulator to see if any advantage could be gained from having this knowledge.
Hi Mike, do you know the Red Car’s Weight Distribution? It would be important for us to know so that we could try it in the simulator. Thanks in advance, Pedro. P.S. I will be in the simulator tomorrow.
Email from Pedro De La Rosa to Mike Coughlan.
Mike apparently responded to this email, dated March 21st 2007, via text message giving the necessary details. Four days later, De La Rosa emailed reigning world champion Fernando Alonso detailing the weight distribution of the Ferrari F2007 to two decimal places. Alonso replied with skeptism about the accuracy of the information, to which De La Rosa confirmed how he came to know these facts.
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. He’s the same person who told us in Australia that Kimi was stopping in lap 18. He’s very friendly with Mike Coughlan, our Chief Designer, and he told him that. Email from Pedro De La Rosa to Fernando Alonso.
In addition to this, the FIA were allowed to see telephone call logs obtained by the Italian police which show a total of 288 text messages and 35 telephone calls were apparently made between Coughlan and Stepney between March 11th and July 3rd this year.
The FIA have expressed in their statement today that although certain McLaren employees were privy to some of the information contained within the leaked document from Ferrari, the team did not implement any of the technical aspects because they simply wouldn’t have worked on the separately designed and built McLaren. However, it is clear that the information Coughlan knew when he was in his role of Chief Designer at the British team would have influenced the performance of his duties.