McLaren say record fine will not hit race team

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SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, Sep 16 (Reuters) McLaren say their performance on the track next season will not suffer as a result of the record 100 million dollar fine imposed on them for spying on Ferrari.

McLaren, who were leading Ferrari in the Formula One constructors' championship before being stripped of their 2007 points and fined by the governing body on Thursday, have yet to decide whether to appeal.

However, team boss Ron Dennis, who said they might ''swallow'' the fine in the interests of the sport, told reporters at the Belgian Grand Prix that McLaren would be as competitive as ever.

''The thing will be funded out of other revenues. It will not in any shape or form be funded from our racing programme,'' he said.

''We're in Formula One to win...it will not affect the commitment we have to Formula One.'' International Automobile Federation (FIA) President Max Mosley, who said on Saturday he had been in favour of banning McLaren for two years, was confident they could cope.

''100 million dollar is a large sum of money but in such a serious case any fine has to be large enough to deter similar behaviour in the future whilst remaining proportionate to the resources of the team,'' he said in a statement.

''Just over half the money from this fine will go to the competing Formula One teams. Each competing team will move up one place with McLaren now taking 11th position in this year's championship.

''The World Motor Sport Council will be invited to distribute the remainder to the FIA's national sporting authorities worldwide for them to spend on helping young drivers to progress in circuit racing and rallies,'' he added.

''This will be the first time the FIA has had such a budget available.'' Other team bosses said a 100 million dollar fine would have been devastating for them.

''For me it's very simple: I'm bankrupt,'' said Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger.

''It's obviously an inconceivable amount of cash,'' said Red Bull's Christian Horner. ''However, in proportion to budgets, I'm sure the FIA thought long and hard about the size of the fine.

''But certainly from our perspective, I don't think our cheque book is that big. We can't fit that many zeros on it, so from our point of view we certainly wouldn't be in a position to be able to cover a fine of that quantum.'' REUTERS BJR PM1515

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