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The late Nigel Stepney: manuscript?


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#1 sstiel

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Posted 28 May 2021 - 14:42

Obituaries of Max Mosley mention what happened in the 2007 Formula One championship with Ferrari technical information being passed onto to Mike Coughlan of McLaren, leading to McLaren's fine and loss of constructor points.

 

Did the late Nigel Stepney ever write a manuscript for a book he hoped to publish about his career and covered why he did what he did in 2007? 



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#2 SophieB

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Posted 28 May 2021 - 14:50

Obituaries of Max Mosley mention what happened in the 2007 Formula One championship with Ferrari technical information being passed onto to Mike Coughlan of McLaren, leading to McLaren's fine and loss of constructor points.
 
Did the late Nigel Stepney ever write a manuscript for a book he hoped to publish about his career and covered why he did what he did in 2007?

There were definitely pencilled in release dates from the publisher for “Red Mist” by Nigel Stepney, see my post below:
 
 

I've been keeping a vague eye on news of this one and it was rumoured to be finally getting a release for Christmas 2012: http://www.motorspor...ionage-scandal/. Guess it was a bit optimistic. Shame! I'd have bought a copy.


Nothing since Stepney’s death, though, rather suggesting the book was never finished.



#3 sstiel

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Posted 28 May 2021 - 15:03

There were definitely pencilled in release dates from the publisher for “Red Mist” by Nigel Stepney, see my post below:
 
 


Nothing since Stepney’s death, though, rather suggesting the book was never finished.

Thanks. I don't know if his family have the manuscript and it was sad what happened to him.


Edited by sstiel, 28 May 2021 - 15:11.


#4 SophieB

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Posted 28 May 2021 - 15:05

It was all extremely sad. I felt kind of melancholy just looking it all up to see if there had been any more news about the book. I do suspect we would have seen it by now if it was for for publication.



#5 sstiel

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Posted 28 May 2021 - 15:35

It was all extremely sad. I felt kind of melancholy just looking it all up to see if there had been any more news about the book. I do suspect we would have seen it by now if it was for for publication.

I don't know if the family would want to collaborate with a motorsport journalist to get it done or they'd prefer not to discuss it.



#6 Vitesse2

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Posted 28 May 2021 - 15:42

It was all extremely sad. I felt kind of melancholy just looking it all up to see if there had been any more news about the book. I do suspect we would have seen it by now if it was for for publication.

Maybe when BCE finally drops off his perch? You'd need very deep pockets to finance fighting any legal challenge from him. The Robert Maxwell method of suppressing the truth ...

 

Equally, there could be quite a few others - younger than Bernie but also well-heeled - who might object to it.



#7 sstiel

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Posted 28 May 2021 - 20:03

Maybe when BCE finally drops off his perch? You'd need very deep pockets to finance fighting any legal challenge from him. The Robert Maxwell method of suppressing the truth ...

Equally, there could be quite a few others - younger than Bernie but also well-heeled - who might ob


Interesting thing Mark P. Hughes quotes Lewis Hamilton saying about his 2007 title loss: "I didn’t know at the time. But I do now. It’s not something I can talk about.”

#8 Michael Ferner

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Posted 30 May 2021 - 08:03

Other than not scoring enough points?

 

C'mon Lewis, you can talk about it. Different from "I don't want to talk about it". Otherwise that's just a BS invitation for conspiracy theories.



#9 Vitesse2

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Posted 30 May 2021 - 09:26

Other than not scoring enough points?

 

C'mon Lewis, you can talk about it. Different from "I don't want to talk about it". Otherwise that's just a BS invitation for conspiracy theories.

I'm not saying you're wrong, Michael. However, I'd suggest it's worth looking at the wider context of that quote, which actually dates to 2012, his last year at McLaren:

 

https://the-race.com...first-f1-title/

 

Since neither Hamilton nor Alonso has really gone on the record to put their sides of the story, it does make me wonder if it's more of a legally constrained 'can't talk' rather than 'won't talk'.



#10 Michael Ferner

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Posted 30 May 2021 - 11:49

Well, that article is exactly the sort of conspiracy BS that I meant. Well done, Lewis - I wonder when he'll come up with a story about Nico Rosberg's championship, and how he's "not allowed to speak about the truth" :rolleyes:



#11 Charlieman

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Posted 30 May 2021 - 13:04

C'mon Lewis, you can talk about it. Different from "I don't want to talk about it". 

 

As George Smiley remarked in last night's repeat of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, "That's the thing about secrets."



#12 Vitesse2

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Posted 30 May 2021 - 13:32

As George Smiley remarked in last night's repeat of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, "That's the thing about secrets."

Or perhaps as Francis Urquhart put it in House of Cards:



#13 Charlieman

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Posted 30 May 2021 - 16:12

To address the topic more seriously, one has to consider who might know a little and who might know a lot. A well connected researcher, burning up a few favours, might dig up a little about F1 industrial espionage in the 2000s by talking with drivers or junior staff. There'd be enough to entertain in the pub but nothing that could be published. The people who really know what happened have too much invested -- money, connections, reputation -- to say anything.



#14 Michael Ferner

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Posted 30 May 2021 - 17:19

Hm. I reckon I do know what happened... Lewis didn't score enough points. That's the long and the short of it. But simple facts are anathema to fanboys, it seems.



#15 Charlieman

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Posted 30 May 2021 - 18:09

My life as a fanboy, Part 94.

 

As a teenager, I wore button badges for punk bands bought from adverts in New Musical Express. You could buy the same badges for ten pence less from adverts in Sounds but Sounds wasn't quite as sexy. I should have sold my original copy of "I'm in Love with Margaret Thatcher" by The Notsensibles a few years ago when it made the hit parade.

 

Whenever Team Ensign (or whatever they were called at the time) raced, or when a privateer entered an Ensign, I was on their side. Off the top of my head, I think that Walsall is the second most northerly point of manufacture of WDC racing cars.

 

As a fanboy, I rank 9/10 for taste and 1/10 for success. I learned at an early age that I am a rubbish fanboy.

 

As a non-fanboy, I can say to Michael: you are absolutely right, Lewis didn't score enough points. As a non-fanboy, I could say to Ron Dennis: you made a right pickle of that season, you lost a world championship three times in a season?



#16 Nemo1965

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Posted 31 May 2021 - 07:34

It was all extremely sad. I felt kind of melancholy just looking it all up to see if there had been any more news about the book. I do suspect we would have seen it by now if it was for for publication.

 

I had the same feeling. For us fans, it was exiting, perhaps infuriating, but for Stepney himself, with all his flaws, this whole affair must have been a clusterbom ripping through his life. And then he dies, and nothing. You know what the Great Bard said about that tale told by an idiot... 



#17 Sterzo

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Posted 31 May 2021 - 09:12

Whatever else can be said about the leaking of documents from Ferrari to McLaren, it wasn't worth the destruction of lives, careers, nearly a team, nor even a racing season. So-called "secrets" are swilling around all the time. There's such a thing as a sense of proportion.



#18 PayasYouRace

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Posted 31 May 2021 - 10:38

Whatever else can be said about the leaking of documents from Ferrari to McLaren, it wasn't worth the destruction of lives, careers, nearly a team, nor even a racing season. So-called "secrets" are swilling around all the time. There's such a thing as a sense of proportion.


Even more when you remember that it wasn’t leaking documents from Ferrari to McLaren, but that they were collecting the data to take to Toyota, and McLaren weren’t even meant to see any of it.

#19 Doug Nye

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Posted 01 June 2021 - 18:05

I am told that Nigel Stepney saw himself as the natural successor to Ross Brawn as Technical Director at Ferrari.  Sadly, that self-image of his capabilities was not shared by anyone there whose opinion counted. Recognising that fact reputedly came to him as a life-altering blow, and his bitterness towards the regime then encouraged him to maximise just how much he might be able to offer to an alternative employer.  The result was trauma, disaster and destruction of everything that he and his people had held dear. Bounding ambition, a hyper-competitive nature and a conception of talent not shared by contemporaries is a toxic mix.  Within the motor racing world at that level such an ultimately brittle personality was not/is not unique.

 

From the limited evidence shared with me, it is just a very, very sad saga...

 

DCN



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#20 MCS

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Posted 01 June 2021 - 19:31

Is Ken Stepney - once a McRae (formerly Leda) employee - a relative?



#21 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 01 June 2021 - 19:49

Whatever else can be said about the leaking of documents from Ferrari to McLaren, it wasn't worth the destruction of lives, careers, nearly a team, nor even a racing season. So-called "secrets" are swilling around all the time. There's such a thing as a sense of proportion.

 

I think proportion is the crucial detail. This isn't knowledge passing between people who change jobs, or a few CDs that went to Toyota in the early 00s. This was the user's manual for the 2007 Ferrari. Which McLaren were actively using. It wasn't "Oh we tend to do this in testing" or "We always run this fuel load in Free Practice 1" that helps you understand what the other team is doing. This was copying their homework.

 


Even more when you remember that it wasn’t leaking documents from Ferrari to McLaren, but that they were collecting the data to take to Toyota, and McLaren weren’t even meant to see any of it.
 
I want to say Honda? I can see how Honda corporately/culturally would not want to touch it. 


#22 GreenMachine

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Posted 01 June 2021 - 22:06

Doug's comments may point to why the MS never saw the light of day.  People with that mindset would not make best selling authors (I am sure someone will prove that wrong), and editing such a MS may not produce a publishable book.



#23 john aston

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 06:22

It is hard to reconcile how  Stepney was cast out into the outer wilderness for all eternity and yet those involved in the disgraceful race fix by Renault at Singapore in 2008 are now rehabilitated . Symonds is a regular pundit and F1 chief technical officer and even the odious , beyond parody Briatore is on the radar ,with podcast interviews and the like . 

 

Stepney cheated by Xerox  , but the Briatore, Piquet  and Symonds triple act cheated in the full knowledge that injury or death was a foreseeable consequence .  



#24 ensign14

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 06:36

It is hard to reconcile how  Stepney was cast out into the outer wilderness for all eternity and yet those involved in the disgraceful race fix by Renault at Singapore in 2008 are now rehabilitated .

You're talking about a sport that for a decade was run by a member of the French SS...



#25 Michael Ferner

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 07:16

Was it not then run by a member of the British Fascists?



#26 ensign14

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 08:24

No, but close.



#27 Michael Ferner

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 09:04

Closer than your assertion! But that's all right, I know your view is blinkered.  :)



#28 ensign14

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 09:32

Well, until his early 20s he was part of the Union Movement, which advocated a united Europe, but I think we now call those people Remoaners.  :p



#29 Vitesse2

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 09:34

I think we're getting a little off the point, gentlemen ...



#30 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 15:39

It is hard to reconcile how  Stepney was cast out into the outer wilderness for all eternity and yet those involved in the disgraceful race fix by Renault at Singapore in 2008 are now rehabilitated . Symonds is a regular pundit and F1 chief technical officer and even the odious , beyond parody Briatore is on the radar ,with podcast interviews and the like . 

 

Stepney cheated by Xerox  , but the Briatore, Piquet  and Symonds triple act cheated in the full knowledge that injury or death was a foreseeable consequence .  

 

1. One example is the ultimate betrayal of your team, the other one is doing anything to help it. No surprise there's a difference in response. 

 

2. No one is going to die lazily spinning out on a street course in modern F1. 



#31 john aston

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 17:12

I disagree . Team betrayal affects those directly involved in the teams and nobody else . Motorsport is far safer than it was but injury or death is a foreseeable risk . Including for marshals and other circuit staff  who may not share the view that 'doing anything to help ' a team   is justifiable.

 

What Renault  was far worse than betraying a mere team - they betrayed the whole sport and a life ban for those directly culpable would not have been inappropriate 



#32 Gabrci

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 18:04

I disagree . Team betrayal affects those directly involved in the teams and nobody else . Motorsport is far safer than it was but injury or death is a foreseeable risk . Including for marshals and other circuit staff  who may not share the view that 'doing anything to help ' a team   is justifiable.

 

What Renault  was far worse than betraying a mere team - they betrayed the whole sport and a life ban for those directly culpable would not have been inappropriate 

 

Not arguing that what Renault did was unacceptable and deserved very serious penalties, I think what Stepney did was a zillion times worse. 



#33 john aston

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 06:09

Really ? Not in my book it isn't . One risked injury to third parties , the other was just photocopying some plans . My moral compass points to the latter being the more heinous .  And it's not as though stealing others' ideas is anything new in Grand Prix racing ,is it ?  



#34 guiporsche

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 07:26

Not to say that the Renault Singapore 2008 thing completely distorted the sporting truth of the 2008 championship. Had it not happened, Felipe Massa then leading the race would have had a very good chance of winning it rather than finishing 13th and (depending on how things went on in that subsequent, different chain of events) would have had a much higher chance of winning the 2008 drivers championship as well. At the very least the results of that race should have been cancelled and at the very best everyone involved should have been banned on the spot from the sport. Probably including 'I did not know anything' Alonso.

That and the safety issue is why Singapore was much more serious than the Stepney-Mclaren photocopying scandal. Although I will add that in the latter case, I found the recent explanations by Pedro de la Rosa in an official F1 podcast of how much of that information was used by Mclaren hardly believable (to be understated).


Edited by guiporsche, 03 June 2021 - 07:39.


#35 jonpollak

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 10:38

Excellent thread here with some interesting observations and opinions.

I thank all the contributors.

 

Having just returned to England early on May 1st from the Philippines after a last show party for Boz Scaggs at the Araneta coliseum my wife told me we were going to the in-laws in Ashford. I agreed but said she should do the driving and after we arrived she said to me  'I'm never driving on a motorway again". We had lunch and dinner there and I fell asleep at about 8 pm in the lounge chair in their front room. Awoken violently at around 12 midnight the wife said the bed in the spare room was not acceptable and we,meaning I, had to drive us back to Reigate...I had a stiff cup of coffee and we departed on the M20 at about 12:45.

 

The next morning I read the news

 

I must have just passed by there a few minutes earlier.

 

There WAS a thread on "the book" or whatever it was to be in 2007

HERE

Jp



#36 sstiel

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 16:10

Excellent thread here with some interesting observations and opinions.

I thank all the contributors.

 

Having just returned to England early on May 1st from the Philippines after a last show party for Boz Scaggs at the Araneta coliseum my wife told me we were going to the in-laws in Ashford. I agreed but said she should do the driving and after we arrived she said to me  'I'm never driving on a motorway again". We had lunch and dinner there and I fell asleep at about 8 pm in the lounge chair in their front room. Awoken violently at around 12 midnight the wife said the bed in the spare room was not acceptable and we,meaning I, had to drive us back to Reigate...I had a stiff cup of coffee and we departed on the M20 at about 12:45.

 

The next morning I read the news

 

I must have just passed by there a few minutes earlier.

 

There WAS a thread on "the book" or whatever it was to be in 2007

HERE

Jp

Maybe after Lewis has retired from driving, he'll elaborate more about it as could Alonso and the others. If the Stepney manuscript did reemerge, you would need the input of others.  Mike Coughlan was working for Jankel Armouring but has since moved on.  



#37 Sterzo

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 19:36

Really ? Not in my book it isn't . One risked injury to third parties , the other was just photocopying some plans . My moral compass points to the latter being the more heinous .  And it's not as though stealing others' ideas is anything new in Grand Prix racing ,is it ?  

My exciting life was spent working in insurance, food manufacture, and more boring industries. It was not uncommon for new managers to arrive with a pile of photcopies. I didn't agree with it, but it's really not the worst of crimes. And teams photograph and audio record their rivals' cars, and welcome any new joiner with plenty of inside knowledge in his head.

 

Fixing a race, risking injury by scattering carbon fibre over the track... you're absolutely right, they're on a totally different scale.



#38 absinthedude

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 21:15

I would say that deliberately causing a crash is risking lives....because you never really know how it might turn out. Once Piquet Jr threw the car out of his control and headed for a wall, even at relatively low speed, he couldn't know for sure that he wouldn't be hurt. And there's always a chance that a piece of debris from his car might find it's way under a competitor's tyre or wing causing a bigger crash...or fly into the spectators or marshals. It shows reckless disregard for safety and life. 

 

What Stepney did does seem to be out of some desperation, and on the realisation that his team didn't view him as highly as he viewed himself. His mental health seems to have been quite badly shaken. He cheated, but he didn't risk on the racetrack. The cheating does not sit well with me at all, as someone who more or less practises radical honesty, but he didn't risk anyone's safety but perhaps his own. And that was his to risk. Terribly sad how it all ended, and I would assume that there will be nothing coming of the book or we'd have seen it by now.

 

Is not Alonso's book further delayed so he can "tell the full story" ?



#39 jtremlett

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 21:37

All the usual caveats with Wikipedia as a source (although it references back to itv.com) but it states that Stepney was found guilty of "sabotage, industrial espionage, sporting fraud and attempted serious injury" by an Italian court.  At the time, I recall it was suggested he had attempted to sabotage the Ferraris at Monaco that year with some mysterious powder although I'm not entirely clear why that seemed to disappear as a charge against him.  Or perhaps it didn't?  I'm also unclear what the "attempted serious injury" relates to.  I think it is evident there is quite a lot yet to come out (or maybe never will) about the whole sorry saga.  



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#40 ensign14

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 22:45

There was a plea bargain.  The white powder was apparently food supplements and vitamins.



#41 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 22:49

My exciting life was spent working in insurance, food manufacture, and more boring industries. It was not uncommon for new managers to arrive with a pile of photcopies. I didn't agree with it, but it's really not the worst of crimes. And teams photograph and audio record their rivals' cars, and welcome any new joiner with plenty of inside knowledge in his head.

 

Fixing a race, risking injury by scattering carbon fibre over the track... you're absolutely right, they're on a totally different scale.

 

It wasn't photo copies though, it was the blueprints/manuals/etc. Of the current car. 



#42 john aston

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 04:56

I think that is just a nuance which doesn't disrupt the greater immorality of the accident. My use of 'photocopying ' was casual . 



#43 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 12:40

I think it's an important distinction, it was well above and beyond the normal leaking of information. In the same way that having Piquet crash was above and beyond the normal sacrificing one car to aid another that sometimes/often happens in F1.



#44 TennisUK

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Posted 06 June 2021 - 20:49

I think it's an important distinction, it was well above and beyond the normal leaking of information.


Mauro Iacconi and Angelo Santini shared a whole lot more than some photocopies with Toyota (and got 4 and 9 months in jail for it).

Strangely Toyota did not get fined €100m.

Renault also acquired a similar amount of IP from Mclaren in 2007, indeed they were found guilty of exactly this by an FIA court.

Strangely Renault did not get fined €100m.

#45 Doug Nye

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Posted 06 June 2021 - 22:14


Maybe Toyota and Renault had sufficient global, industrial and political stature to be considered Mosley innocent...?

 

DCN


Edited by Doug Nye, 06 June 2021 - 22:14.


#46 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 06 June 2021 - 22:54

Mauro Iacconi and Angelo Santini shared a whole lot more than some photocopies with Toyota (and got 4 and 9 months in jail for it).

Strangely Toyota did not get fined €100m.

Renault also acquired a similar amount of IP from Mclaren in 2007, indeed they were found guilty of exactly this by an FIA court.

Strangely Renault did not get fined €100m.

 

The Ferrari to Toyota was ex-employees with CDs I think, which in fairness is a decent amount of data in the early 00s. Stepney/Ferrari/Coughlan/McLaren was a much bigger issue. I vaguely recall Renault being involved in a similar thing at the same time but not the details so can't really comment. But I don't agree at all with writing off 'spygate' as just one of those things that happens in F1. It was pretty severe. McLaren denied and lied until they were caught red handed/ratted out. Pretty much all of the McLaren dramas in 2007 on and off track were the result of Dennis not having any ****ing idea what was going on in his team or with his drivers as various dominoes started shattering each other. 



#47 TennisUK

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 04:31

The Renault example was almost identical to the Mclaren example - except they had more data.

As Doug says the reason they got off and Mclaren got fined £100m is because Renault (and Toyota) could go and do other things, so punishing them too hard (or at all) could result in them packing their bags. For Mclaren, F1 was the only game in town so they would need to suck up the punishment. The fact that Max loathed Ron only made it easier.

As for these examples being unusual, if so, it’s quite the coincidence that they all happened within a couple of years of each other. I suspect this sort of thing (to a greater or lesser extent) happens *very* regularly indeed.

Edited by TennisUK, 07 June 2021 - 04:33.


#48 kayemod

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 07:51

The Renault example was almost identical to the Mclaren example - except they had more data.

 

 

And of course, Renault are French...

 

Perfide Albion.



#49 Charlieman

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 09:25

As Doug says the reason they got off and Mclaren got fined £100m is because Renault (and Toyota) could go and do other things, so punishing them too hard (or at all) could result in them packing their bags. For Mclaren, F1 was the only game in town so they would need to suck up the punishment. The fact that Max loathed Ron only made it easier.

The offences also occurred at a time when costs made it difficult for new teams to enter F1 -- 11 teams and 22 cars on the grid. There was no backup plan to encourage new teams to fill in the gaps.

 

Compare with 1995 when Toyota were caught intentionally cheating in world rallying by opening a restrictor plate for the turbo more than the regs permitted. The WRC was pretty healthy with strong factory teams and private entries. Toyota received a ban for the remainder of the season and the following one. Few people argue that it was an unfair penalty.



#50 Jon Saltinstall

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Posted 07 June 2021 - 11:49

To support this, there was of course Mosley's pithy explanation of how much of the £100M fine was for offence and how much was for his assessment of Ron Dennis's character, which I'm too polite to quote here (though people who know me might say otherwise!)