NASCAR & Auto Racing

McLaren will not appeal record $100 million fine in F1 spy scandal

LONDON – Formula One team McLaren will not appeal the record $100 million fine and constructors’ points deduction in the sport’s spy scandal.

The team said Friday that it had notified motor racing’s world governing body that it would not contest the punishment for possessing confidential documents belonging to F1 rival Ferrari.

“McLaren thinks it is in the best interests of the sport, and its goal of winning races and world championships, not to appeal,” the team said in a statement.

McLaren was punished by the World Motor Sports Council on Sept. 13 in Paris, but no action was taken against drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Hamilton leads the drivers’ standings, and two-time defending champion Alonso is second with three races to go.

“We believe the time has come to put this huge distraction behind us,” McLaren team chief Ron Dennis said. “McLaren wants to win races and world championships.”

Friday was the deadline for any appeal to be submitted to governing body FIA.

The case broke open in July when a 780-page technical dossier on Ferrari cars was found at the home of McLaren’s chief designer, Mike Coughlan, who later was suspended. Ferrari mechanic Nigel Stepney, who allegedly supplied the documents, was fired.

The case centered on phone records and a trail of e-mail exchanges, which included correspondence between McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa and Coughlan, and De la Rosa and Alonso.

“To our regret and embarrassment, the content of the previously unknown e-mails demonstrated possession not being limited to a single person, albeit unsanctioned in any way by the team,” McLaren said.

The fine was by far the biggest in F1 history. And McLaren, which had been leading the constructors’ championship, was kicked out of this season’s team race.

FIA said it did not penalize Hamilton and Alonso because they provided evidence in exchange for immunity.

McLaren acknowledged that it had possession of confidential documents, but insisted “this information was not used to gain advantage on its cars.”

“Moving forwards, and in consultation with our shareholders, we will now review and further strengthen our internal compliance structures and processes,” McLaren added.

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