MOSLEY: McLAREN 'FACE AXE' IN 2008 - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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Lewis Hamilton and McLaren could still face more punishment over the £50million Ferrari spying scandal, one of the sport's most powerful men warned yesterday.

Max Mosley, president of governing body the FIA, said there was a possibility the British team, who also have defending champion Fernando Alonso, could be booted out of next year's world championship if Ferrari secrets are found to have influenced the design of next year's McLaren car.

"They could be banned for 2008," said Mosley. "If there is serious evidence the information has influenced the design then we would have to look very seriously at their involvement in 2008. I hope that it won't happen."

Ferrari team experts are convinced the 780 pages of secret data found at the home of McLaren's suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan are bound to have influenced the development of their rival's two drivers' cars.

But McLaren bosses have continually protested their innocence and cited the actions of a single 'rogue' employee.

With Ferrari pursuing civil action in England and Italy, and the Italian police ploughing through phone records and bank accounts, Mosley said the saga could yet get worse.

That's bad news for McLaren who have already been hit with the biggest fine in sporting history of £50m and stripped of all their points this season in the team competition although not in the individual drivers contest.

Mosley was speaking as championship leader Hamilton and his closest rivals, Alonso and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen headed to Japan for the start of the three-race finale that will decide who becomes champion.

He also lashed out at the multi-billion poundfunding of the 2012 Olympics, saying it would take only a fraction of the money ploughed into athletics to save the British Grand Prix.

"The government has lost its virginity over the Olympics. The Grand Prix is far more important than the Olympics which is only held in this country every 50 years," said Mosley. "If Britain loses the Grand Prix, the government will have to take the blame."

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