By Nikki Reynolds
Ferrari employee Nigel Stepney, whom the team recently instigated legal
proceedings against, has left the Maranello squad. Ferrari never
specified exactly what the complaint was but it seems Stepney has been
dismissed after an internal disciplinary hearing, although he still
faces court action in Italy.
There have been several theories in regard to the situation, including
speculation about industrial espionage and sabotage, mostly circulating
around unconfirmed allegations of a mysterious 'white powder' found in
or around Ferrari fuel tanks prior to Monaco.
Stepney, who has been linked with a move to Honda, quickly refuted any
wrongdoing once the charges were made and has maintained that he will be
cleared. He is currently still on holiday and is expected back in Italy
in the near future, when it's likely he will hold a press conference.
As if all that wasn't curious enough, McLaren today released a statement
saying it has suspended an unnamed technical employee due to a Ferrari
investigation. It was not confirmed at the time that it was related to
the Stepney case but espionage was once again the theme.
"McLaren became aware on the 3rd July 2007 that a senior member of its
technical organisation was the subject of a Ferrari investigation
regarding the receipt of technical information," the statement read.
"The team has learnt that this individual had personally received a
package of technical information from a Ferrari employee at the end of
"Whilst McLaren has no involvement in the matter and condemns such
actions it will fully co-operate with any investigation. The individual
has in the meanwhile been suspended by the company pending a full and
proper investigation of the matter. No further comment will be made."
Since McLaren made the statement, Ferrari also confirmed its actions and
the link between the two. "Ferrari announces it has recently presented a
case against Nigel Stepney and an engineer from the Vodafone
McLaren-Mercedes team with the Modena Tribunal, concerning the theft of
technical information," the Scuderia stated.
"Furthermore, legal action has been instigated in England and a search
warrant has been issued concerning the engineer. This produced a
positive outcome. Ferrari reserves the right to consider all
implications, be they criminal, civil or of any other nature, according
to the applicable laws."
Neither McLaren nor Ferrari have named the engineer in question but
allegedly documents belonging to Ferrari were found at his house during
a police search today. McLaren designer Mike Coughlan is rumoured to be
the accused but for the moment that has not been confirmed.
Attend Black Hat USA, July 28-August 2 in Las Vegas,
the world's premier technical event for ICT security
experts. Featuring 30 hands-on training courses and
90 Briefings presentations with lots of new content
and new tools. Network with 4,000 delegates from
70 nations. Visit product displays by 30 top
sponsors in a relaxed setting. Rates increase on
June 1 so register today. http://www.blackhat.com