PARIS – A day after Renault was accused of possessing confidential information belonging to rival team McLaren, Renault acknowledged it suspended an engineer in September.
Renault said Friday it suspended Phil Mackereth on Sept. 6 when officials learned of the leak. Renault said it alerted McLaren and FIA – motor sport’s governing body – even though none of the information was used.
On Thursday, FIA 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.
Mackereth, who joined Renault from McLaren in September 2006, brought engineering drawings and technical spreadsheets from McLaren that were added to Renault’s database.
“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,” Renault said in a statement Friday.
The information included drawings of the four basic systems as used by McLaren: the internal layout of the fuel tank, the basic layout of the gear clusters, a tuned mass damper and a suspension damper.
“This information was loaded at the request of Mr. Mackereth onto his personal directory,” Renault said. “This was done without the knowledge of anyone in authority in the team.
“Our formal investigation showed that early in his employment with Renault, Mr. Mackereth made some of our engineers aware of parts of this information.”
It’s an added twist to a spy scandal involving McLaren that overshadowed much of the last F1 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.