The McLaren team has come out fighting following a visit from Italian law officials to their team headquarters at Monza.
It is reported that the team is facing a criminal prosecution for sporting fraud, industrial espionage and embezzlement and the prosecutors’ visit was the first move in these proceedings.
However it is just the beginning in a potentially long and convoluted legal process. Now the police must investigate the case and see whether charges can be brought.
On the eve of the Italian Grand Prix, with its drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso shutting out the front row despite all the distractions, McLaren issued this statement:
“McLaren did receive some contact from the Italian authorities yesterday but was not 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.
“McLaren is completely confident that were any proceedings of this type ever to be brought we would be completely exonerated.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton has been speaking of his discomfort at recent developments, saying “I could be out of a job next week.”
He said he was frustrated to find the world of F1 so riven by politics and to discover that his brilliant season could be ruined by factors so completely outside his control.
Speaking in Monza before the race, he told the ITV F1 team: “I really do have a great belief in my team. I have one hundred per cent confidence in them. I’m not going to say any more because I might get upset.
“Ron has always been very, very loyal to me, always given me an opportunity. I’ve never had any reason to doubt him.
“I think people are trying to bring him down. Formula One would not be the same without McLaren.
“Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that nothing else is going to happen.”