Appeal court to hear Ferrari case

F1's governing body will hear an appeal against its decision not to impose sanctions against McLaren for obtaining confidential information from Ferrari.

updated: August 02, 2007 09:39 IST
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Formula One's governing body will hear an appeal against its decision not to impose sanctions against McLaren for obtaining confidential information from rival Ferrari.

FIA president Max Mosley said on Tuesday he was sending the case to the body's court of appeal to allow Ferrari to present its case and to ensure "public confidence" in the result.

Previously, FIA had said no appeal was permitted.

After a hearing in Paris last Thursday, FIA's World Motor Sport Council ruled that McLaren did possess secret Ferrari documents but did not punish the team because there was insufficient evidence the material was misused.

Mosley decided to allow the appeal after receiving a letter from Luigi Macaluso, head of the Italian automobile association, which represents Ferrari.

"Your letter suggests that the outcome may have been different if the Council had given Ferrari further opportunities to be heard beyond those that were in fact offered," Mosley wrote. "Because of this and the importance of public confidence in the outcome, I will send this matter to the FIA Court of Appeal ... with a request that the Court hear both Ferrari and McLaren and any other Championship competitor who so requests.

"This will determine whether the decision of the WMSC was appropriate and, if not, substitute such other decision as may be just."

Macaluso complained that Ferrari was only an observer at last week's hearing and did not have a chance to offer its side of the story.

"We must confess that we find it quite difficult to justify how a team has not been penalized while it has been found in breach of ... the International Sporting Code," Macaluso wrote. "Indeed this is probably the most fundamental provision of our sport. ... We cannot see why additional conditions would have to be demonstrated in order for a penalty to be inflicted."

McLaren said Ferrari had waged a "thoroughly misleading press campaign" and that there was nothing new to discuss.

"McLaren is not aware of any new information or arguments that have arisen since the meeting of the World Motor Sport Council and therefore assumes that these same materials will now be considered by the FIA International Court of Appeal," the team said in a statement. "Whilst this is both disappointing and time-consuming, McLaren is confident that the FIA International Court of Appeal will also exonerate McLaren."

A 780-page technical dossier on Ferrari cars was found at the home of McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, who has since been suspended. The Ferrari mechanic who allegedly supplied the documents, Nigel Stepney, was fired.

Although McLaren wasn't punished last week, the FIA body warned the team that it could be kicked out of the 2007 and 2008 championships if there is evidence that the Ferrari documents were used to influence the competition.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso lead the driver standings with seven of 17 races left in the season. Hamilton has 70 points and Alonso 68, while Felipe Massa has 59 and Kimi Raikkonen 52 for Ferrari.

McLaren also leads the constructor standings with 138 points to 111 for Ferrari.

Meanwhile, Stepney said in an interview published Tuesday that he was the victim of a set-up.

"Someone gave away the designs but it wasn't me. Someone set me up and that person is still within Ferrari," Nigel Stepney said in an interview in the Italian daily La Repubblica.

Stepney is also facing criminal charges filed by Ferrari against him in a Modena court for attempted sabotage before the Monaco Grand Prix.

A mysterious white powder was found on the gas tanks of Ferrari's cars on May 21, six days before the Monaco race, and traces of the powder have reportedly been found in a pair of Stepney's trousers.

"I didn't put it there," Stepney told La Repubblica. "They put the powder in my pants pocket while I was taking a shower."