McLaren apologise for role in Ferrari spying scandal

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{image-mclaren JPG_14122007.jpg}Woking (England),Dec14: The McLaren team apologised on Thursday for its role in the Formula One spy scandal.

In a letter to FIA's World Motorsport Council, McLaren chief operating officer Martin Whitmarsh expressed his embarrassment that secret Ferrari documents had been more widely spread through his team than originally thought. McLaren was fined a record US$100 million in September by the WMSC for unauthorized possession of confidential Ferrari materials. The team was also kicked out of the constructors' championship.

McLaren now acknowledges that some Ferrari information had been disclosed directly, or indirectly, to people within the company apart from test driver Pedro de la Rosa and former driver Fernando Alonso.

"We apologise unreservedly if our prior ignorance of some of these facts has misled the World Motor Sports Council and we can only assure you all that this was never our intention," Whitmarsh wrote.

Whitmarsh said McLaren's own investigations into the case were insufficient and it was "a matter of deep regret for us that our understanding of the facts has improved as a result of a FIA inspection rather than our own prior investigations."

The case broke open in July when a 780-page technical dossier on Ferrari cars was found at the home of McLaren's chief designer, Mike Coughlan, who later was suspended. Ferrari mechanic Nigel Stepney, who allegedly supplied the documents, was fired.

McLaren said in a separate statement that the situation could have been avoided if the team had told FIA about Stepney's first communication right away.

"We are, of course, embarrassed by the successive disclosures," the statement said. "To avoid even the possibility of Ferrari information influencing our performance during 2008, McLaren has offered a set of detailed undertakings to the FIA which will impose a moratorium on development in relation to three separate systems."

McLaren also offered a public apology and promised a similar situation would never occur again. It also agreed to pay FIA's costs for the investigation.

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