F1 spy verdict: Racing legends shocked and staggered

By Andy Darley

CalendarThursday, September 13th, 2007

 
 

The magnitude of the punishment handed out to McLaren by the World Motor Sport Council has astonished much of the racing community.

While Ferrari, unsurprisingly, declared themselves satisfied, others have greeted the news of the $100m fine and exclusion from the 2007 constructors’ championship with considerably less agreement.

Racing legend Sir Stirling Moss reacted with shock: “I’m absolutely staggered – this is terrible.”

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “The whole of motor racing has been shaken and the only thing they have done right is to allow the drivers to keep points.

“Ron Dennis is not an easy man but I feel he’s been done down – I really do not believe he would know about it. Okay, he’s the captain of the ship but I would put a lot of my money on his integrity.

“It’s awful for the public, we are seeing the best racing we’ve seen for years. Lewis and Fernando are stunning drivers – I don’t know what the devil I would do if I were them.”

The WMSC has announced that McLaren can set the lost TV and prize money the team would have got from winning the constructor’s title against the $100m fine – and BBC Online has estimated this may halve the amount of cash the team has to hand over.

However, former world champion Sir Jackie Stewart still smelled a nice little earner for the sport’s rulers.

“McLaren are not a poor company – but you have to ask where the money goes,” he said. “Does it go to the governing body? Have they just gained by a hundred million dollars – or does it go to charity?”

The answer is, of course, most certainly not the latter.

Whichever, Stewart felt the punishment was far too great for the crime the team had been publicly accused of: “It does not justify this type of penalty,” he said.

“This isn’t murder, this is something that has happened before and there wasn’t even a fine or disciplinary action taken by the same governing body.

“There is something very strange going on, there is no doubt about that.”

One possibility, he said, was that the full facts had not yet emerged: “All I can say, without being in full command of all of the information, is that the offence must be considerably larger than has been projected either by the governing body of the sport or within the media.”

Former team boss Eddie Jordan was left reeling by the size of the fine: “It is has huge ramifications for McLaren,” he told Channel 4 News.

“I have never ever seen anything of this magnitude. It’s just too huge to even contemplate. It’s possible it brings the financial future of McLaren into question.”

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