F1: New ‘spy row’ twist threatens to involve Renault

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Here we go again.

Rumours of a new F1 spy row involving the leaking to Renault of sensitive commercial data belonging to McLaren have surfaced in the wake of last week’s events.

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The allegations, published in today’s Sunday Times, reportedly involve the recruitment to the French team of former McLaren design engineer Phil Mackereth – and three computer disks full of secret information that might or might not have crossed the channel with him.

Renault head honcho Flavio Briatore, speaking at the Spa pre-race press conference, launched a pre-emptive strike under questioning from ITV F1’s James Allen by denying there is any investigation and threatening to sue anyone who accuses him of wrongdoing.

He said: “First, if somebody tells me it’s the same [as McLaren], I sue somebody, quickly. Second, it’s not an investigation regarding myself and the team. Third, we give all the information to the Federation, at least when we found out something, and this is it.

“It’s as simple as that. And I give the evidence as well to McLaren… I think McLaren was judged by the World Council, and there was enough evidence to find McLaren guilty, it’s as simple as that.

“I don’t want, at this moment (to talk) about Renault because first we are not being investigated, second we give all our evidence to McLaren and to Mr Mosley and to the Federation.”

It’s fascinating to speculate how and why information centred on Briatore’s team should have made it into the public domain at this particular point in time.

But, for the time being, all we can really do is wait – to find out whether the row is about to become even more unpleasant, or whether the F1 world has had enough of this sort of thing – for the time being, at least.

Read the full Sunday Times story here or view the pre-race press conference transcript with Briatore’s remarks.

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