Date registered: Oct 2005
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McLaren suspect timing of police probe
(GMM) McLaren has hit out at the "nature and timing" of the Italian police's visit to the Monza paddock on Saturday.
Ron Dennis and other team chiefs were served with notices of pending criminal prosecutions relating to the spy saga just prior to qualifying, but the Woking based outfit insisted in a statement on Sunday that no-one was "charged with anything".
"We strongly suspect that the nature and timing of this wholly unnecessary contact, just before the start of qualifying, was to disrupt our preparation for this important session and Thursday's World Motor Sport Council hearing," the statement added.
The British team also found a paddock ally on Sunday in the form of 1994 McLaren driver Martin Brundle.
He wrote in his column for The Times that the saga seems to have turned into a "witch-hunt", and pointed a critical finger at F1's governing body.
"Inside the paddock we can't fathom how, previously, two Toyota F1 employees can be handed prison sentences for industrial espionage using Ferrari software, yet the FIA was not interested in getting involved, and how Colin Kolles from Spyker could walk down the pit lane with a drawing from rival Toro Rosso presented as evidence of cloned cars, yet the FIA took no action," he wrote.
Brundle said his sense is of a wider struggle, possibly relating back to Dennis' stance against the FIA in past years, including the touted 'breakaway' world championship.
"Is the FIA looking for McLaren heads to roll?" he wondered.
Bernie Ecclestone, however, insists that if McLaren is found guilty of espionage, the team must be punished -- irrespective of the possible ramifications for the title battle and also things like disaffected sponsors.
F1's chief executive said: "If you let someone get away with that, what's next? Then after that you let them get away because you've let that get away, what comes after that?