PARIS – Formula One’s spying scandal took another twist Thursday when Renault was accused by the sport’s governing body of possessing confidential information belonging to rival team McLaren.
FIA has summoned Renault officials to a hearing of the World Motor Sport Council on Dec. 6 in Monte Carlo, Monaco, to answer a charge of having “unauthorized possession of documents and confidential information” of McLaren cars between September 2006 and October 2007.
The information includes “but (is) not limited to the layout and critical dimensions of the McLaren F1 car, together with details of the McLaren fueling system, gear assembly, oil cooling system, hydraulic control system and a novel suspension component used by the 2006 and 2007 McLaren F1 cars,” the FIA statement said.
Renault finished third in the manufacturer championship with 51 points, 153 behind winner Ferrari.
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Heikki Kovalainen finished seventh in the driver standings with 30 points, followed by teammate Giancarlo Fisichella with 21.
Ferrari champion Kimi Raikkonen finished with 110 points.
A Renault F1 spokeswoman said the company “for legal reasons” couldn’t give detailed comment. The McLaren team declined to comment.
The move follows McLaren’s involvement in a spy scandal that overshadowed much of the season.
McLaren was fined a record $100 million by the World Motor Sport Council on Sept. 13 after FIA found the team guilty of using leaked secret data from Ferrari.
The FIA investigation centered on phone records and a trail of e-mail exchanges, which included correspondence between McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa and McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, and De la Rosa and driver Fernando Alonso.
McLaren’s investigations revealed a former staff member allegedly took several CDs worth of data to the Renault team, Autosport Magazine reported on its Web site.
McLaren’s lawyers brought that to the attention of FIA in September. FIA then began an investigation that culminated in Thursday’s charge, the British-based magazine said.
McLaren was kicked out of the manufacturers’ championship by FIA, but Alonso and teammate Lewis Hamilton were not docked points. Hamilton finished second and Alonso third in the drivers’ championship.
The new accusations came amid reports that FIA sent legal and technical experts to seize documents from McLaren’s headquarters in Woking, England, as part of its continuing investigation into the Ferrari leaks.
McLaren said the team was co-operating fully with the FIA in the Ferrari case.