McLaren anger at police claims

McLaren have expressed "extreme displeasure" at reported claims by Italian police that they have found evidence implicating senior team personnel in last year's 'spying' saga involving rivals Ferrari.

As part of an ongoing criminal inquiry into the affair, Italian magistrates questioned McLaren senior management on Wednesday.

Evidence was also taken from both the team's headquarters in Woking and the homes of top executives - including team boss Ron Dennis.

An excerpt from the police statement published in La Gazzetta dello Sport claimed that from the evidence there "clearly emerges the responsibilities of the management and some technicians at a high level in McLaren".


However, the team issued their own statement on Friday which labelled the words of the Italian police as "grossly inaccurate and misleading".

"McLaren Racing wishes to record its extreme displeasure with the wording of a statement that the Italian Police are reported to have made yesterday," the statement read.

"If those reports accurately reflect the police statement, the statement is grossly inaccurate and misleading.

"The reports incorrectly claim that the searches produced material which clearly shows the responsibility of certain people at McLaren Racing.

"In fact, the Italian police have not yet even been given access to any of the material taken, nor have they even started to review that material.

"We would be extremely surprised if the review of the documentation reveals anything which has not already been disclosed as a result of the extensive investigations already carried out.

"McLaren Racing believes that due process needs to be respected and that the conduct of an investigation process should not be construed adversely or used for publicity purposes."


Wednesday's developments mark the latest stage of the inquiry launched by Guiseppe Tibis - a prosecutor in Ferrari's home district of Modena.

Last year's scandal - which led to McLaren being fined $100 million and thrown out of the constructors' championship - centred around the passing of a 780-page dossier of Ferrari technical data to suspended McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan.

Ferrari have accused Nigel Stepney of passing the information to Coughlan, the Italian team's former head of performance development having already been questioned by Tibis.

Former McLaren driver Fernando Alonso and test driver Pedro de la Rosa have also been interviewed by Tibis.

McLaren's statement added: "It should be noted that none of the extensive searches or investigations completed to date have produced any evidence that the Ferrari documents which Mr Nigel Stepney handed over to Mr Michael Coughlan were ever passed to anyone else at McLaren Racing or used on the McLaren Formula 1 car."