Renault has not been penalised for possession of confidential data belonging to its rival McLaren because there was no proof that the team benefited from it.
That is the finding of the World Motor Sport Council, released today after its verdict in the case was announced yesterday.
It has been acknowledged, both by Renault and by the WMSC, that former McLaren Chief Engineer took a substantial amount of information with him when he changed teams.
But the hearing did not find convincing evidence that this information had been disseminated widely around the French team.
The WMSC statement said: “Mackereth took a much more significant volume of information from McLaren including some confidential information, some information that was not proprietary to McLaren and some personal financial information.
“The WMSC can be concerned only with what Renault had access to (rather than what Mackereth took) from McLaren as only the former could impact the FIA Formula One World Championship.
“The WMSC has concluded that of the four drawings actually viewed by Renault’s engineers, three were either of no use to Renault or were not in fact used by Renault. The fourth drawing (a drawing of McLaren’s so-called â€˜J-damper’) was used by Renault to try to have the system that they thought McLaren was using declared illegal.
“This failed because Renault had certain fundamental misunderstandings about the operation of the ‘J-damper’ system. This suggests that Renault’s sight of the ‘J-damper’ drawing did not give Renault enough information to understand how it worked. In these circumstances, an affect on the Championship cannot be established.”
Later in the judgment, the WMSC draws a distinction between confidential information in the context of an F1 engineer changing teams and ‘live’ information
“…there is no evidence of a flow of current information between competing teams. After leaving McLaren, Mackereth had no further access to current or updated McLaren information. Nor is there any evidence that Renault encouraged Mackereth in any way to bring the confidential information from McLaren.
“The WMSC considered it significant that Renault approached the investigation with an open and transparent attitude. The WMSC also notes that Renault has co-operated fully with the FIA technical department’s investigation.”
It goes on to say that it notes “with strong disapproval” that senior individuals within Renault, who should have known that the drawings contained proprietary and confidential information.
“This organisational failing meant that they did not report the matter to their line managers as they should have done. Had they done so, the matter may have been brought to the FIA’s attention at a far earlier stage.
“The WMSC has also taken into account that Renault has introduced a number of new measures with the aim of preventing a similar problem occurring again, and that Renault appears to have taken a pro-active approach in reforming and updating its practices, some of which were introduced before Mackereth’s actions came to light.
” In these circumstances, although a number of very unsatisfactory elements were noted during the deliberations, in assessing the gravity of the breach, the WMSC concluded that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the information was used in such a way as to interfere with or to have an impact on the Championship.”