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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 July 2007, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
McLaren off hook in F1 spying row
McLaren chief Ron Dennis
McLaren chief Ron Dennis was in Paris for the hearing
McLaren have escaped any immediate penalty after a disciplinary hearing into how they came to be in possession of confidential Ferrari documents.

McLaren suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan after a 780-page technical dossier was found at his home.

But the world motorsport council said there was "insufficent evidence" it had affected this year's title race.

McLaren still face a championship ban if in the future they are seen to have gained any advantage from the data.

Ferrari reacted angrily to the decision, saying it "legitimises dishonest behaviour in F1 and sets a very serious precedent".

The official statement from the FIA read: "The world council is satisfied that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was in possession of confidential Ferrari information and is therefore in breach of Article 151c of the international sporting code.


"However, there is insufficient evidence that this information was used in such a way as to interfere improperly with the FIA Formula One world championship. We therefore impose no penalty."

The statement also said it would ask Coughlan and the other man at the centre of the drama, Ferrari's former head of performance development Nigel Stepney, to justify their actions to motorsport's highest authority, the FIA.

We reserve the right to invite McLaren back in front of the WMSC where it will face the possibility of exclusion from not only the 2007 championship but also the 2008 championship

FIA statement

"The world council will also invite Mr Stepney and Mr Coughlan to show reason why they should not be banned from international motor sport for a lengthy period, and the world council has delegated authority to deal with this matter to the legal department of the FIA."

But with legal action still pending in Italy and England, the governing body did not rule out returning to the case in the future and potentially imposing harsh penalties.

"If it is found in the future that the Ferrari information has been used to the detriment of the championship, we reserve the right to invite McLaren back in front of the world council where it will face the possibility of exclusion from not only the 2007 championship but also the 2008 championship," the FIA said.

McLaren team chief Ron Dennis's immediate reaction was that he was "not completely comfortable with the outcome but the punishment fits the crime".

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