More reflections on Renault

November 9, 2007 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

More information about the circumstances surrounding Renault’s possession of confidential McLaren data has come to light.

The case concerns Phil Mackereth, who defect from McLaren to Renault in September last year. Earlier today Renault issued a statement:

Following the notification of the FIA for the ING Renault F1 Team representatives to appear in front of the World Council, the team wishes to clarify the situation.

On the 6th September 2007 it came to our attention that an engineer (Mr Phil Mackereth) who joined the team from McLaren in Sept 2006 had brought with him some information that was considered to be proprietary to McLaren. This information was contained on old style floppy discs and included copies of some McLaren engineering drawings and some technical spreadsheets.

This information was loaded at the request of Mr Mackereth onto his personal directory on the Renault F1 Team file system. This was done without the knowledge of anyone in authority in the team. As soon as the situation was brought to the attention of the team’s technical management, the following actions were taken:

The information was completely cleansed from the team’s computer systems and a formal investigation was started. We promptly informed McLaren of the situation and immediately after the FIA.

Since then we have constantly and regularly kept McLaren and the FIA informed on all relevant findings.

Mr Mackereth was immediately suspended from his position. The original floppy discs were impounded and sent to our solicitors for return to McLaren.

Our formal investigation showed that early in his employment with Renault Mr Mackereth made some of our engineers aware of parts of this information in the form of a few reduced scale engineering drawings. These drawings covered four basic systems as used by McLaren and were: the internal layout of the fuel tank, the basic layout of the gear clusters, a tuned mass damper and a suspension damper.

Subsequent witness statements from the engineers involved have categorically stated that having been briefly shown these drawings, none of this information was used to influence design decisions relating to the Renault car. In the particular case of the tuned mass damper, these had already been deemed illegal by the FIA and therefore the drawing was of no value.

The suspension damper drawing hinted that the McLaren design might be similarly considered illegal and a subsequent clarification from the FIA confirmed this based upon our crude interpretation of the concept.

ING Renault F1 Team have co-operated fully with McLaren and the FIA in this matter to the extent that the team has invited McLaren’s independent experts to come and assess the team’s computer systems and inspect the cars and the design records, to demonstrate that this unfortunate incident has not in anyway influenced the design of the cars.

ING Renault F1 Team have acted with complete transparency towards McLaren and the FIA, being proactive in solving this matter and we are fully confident in the judgement of the World Council.

Renault’s defence is that the team gained no advantage from having the McLaren data. That may be turn but is a shaky stance. Remember that the FIA couldn’t find a shred of evidence that the MP4-22 was contaminated by Ferrari’s technical data.

The omens don’t look good for the Enstone-based team and a swingeing fine could cause the parent company to pull out of F1. For the good of the sport the FIA must levy a fair (probably hefty) fine, but it would be a shame if that was the deaf knell for the team.

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Entry filed under: Renault, Teams.

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