Renault accused of spying

November 8, 2007 at 2:51 pm Leave a comment

You couldn’t make it up, but someone has.
A couple of months after docking McLaren all their constructors points for stealing Ferrari’s designs the FIA are ready to draw more blood. Renault have now been hauled before the World Motorsport Council to explain how and why they had possession of McLaren’s technical drawings. The charges against Renault appear suspiciously similar to those levelled against McLaren. If true, the Enstone-based outfit will likely suffer a similar punishment. The hearing will take place on December 6th.

This development has significant ramifications for both Renault and the wider sport.

  • McLaren will be grateful for the company in the slammer — the spotlight will be off them for a while
  • The fact that an accusing finger has been pointed at another team raises questions as to how endemic spying is in the world of F1. Teams have always played close attention to the latest designs employed by rivals, even recruiting squadrons of operatives to take a good, close up look at other cars on the grid
  • Renault’s 2008 car will likely be even more compromised than McLaren’s as development is almost complete — next year could be a disaster for Flav and his team if his car is riddled with McLaren bits and pieces
  • Given that McLaren had access to top secret Ferrari info is it possible that Renault stole this too? Perhaps the FIA should cast an eye over the F28 for a likeness to the F2008
  • There is a sharp irony that McLaren stole stuff from Ferrari only to have their own work nicked by the French!

Spying seems to follow Fernando Alonso around like a bad smell: first McLaren and now Renault. If Alonso were about to put pen to paper with Renault expect him to wait until this latest spy saga has been cleared up. It is unlikely that the Spaniard will want to race for another team accused of thieving state secrets.

It is hard to predict how all this will shake out. The smart money says that Renault will be punished along the lines that McLaren were. The FIA, though, has a bigger question to answer. How can F1 be adequately policed to regain the trust of the fans and sponsors? Or is the sport destined be a corrupt spectacle evermore?

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2007 Review: Renault More reflections on Renault

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