Although the official investigation into who stole Ferrari's data and what it would be used for has so far centred on Stepney, McLaren's Mike Coughlan and whether data transferred to the latter's home was used at any stage in the development of this year's race-winning MP4-22, the role of Honda has been quietly glossed over.

Although team boss Nick Fry admitted over the British GP weekend that he had been in touch with both Stepney and Coughlan, he insisted that the meeting was merely to discuss the future employment of both men, and that there had been no mention of access to information.

Not that Fry needed to know of course. Had Honda employed Stepney and Coughlan, they would have brought pooled knowledge of the operation and design of two of Formula One's powerhouses to the Japanese team anyway - a suggestion being put forward by Spanish FIA representative Joaquin Verdegay in a recent interview with the Spanish newspaper AS.

"While it appears that the information may have been destined for McLaren, [Stepney and Coughlan] had a lot of documentation of the two better teams in F1 and the intention," Verdegay claims, "was to sell it to another team, such as Honda,"

Verdegay also suggested that it would be hard to prove whether or not McLaren had made use of the information leaked from Maranello and whether or not Coughlan had been acting alone, as has been claimed by the Woking operation.

"It is very difficult to show that McLaren has used the information or has done so knowingly," he continued, "As a result, it could be difficult to reprimand the team because there is no proof. "

Meanwhile, Stepney continues to claim his innocence, amid reports that he is ready to name the guilty parties. The British engineer's lawyer, Sonia Bartolini, has revealed that talks will be held with Jean Todt in which the identity of those 'involved' may be revealed.

"Stepney underlines that he had nothing to do with the events to which his name has been bound," Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport quoted Bartolini as saying "He now wants the guilty to be identified. He knows the suspects and is ready to report them to Ferrari and Jean Todt. For now, however, it is premature to talk any further about this matter."

 

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