The Formula 1 'spy-row' has taken another twist after FIA president Max Mosley decided to send the case to the FIA Court of Appeal.

McLaren was found guilty of being in possession of confidential Ferrari documents, in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code, at a hearing of the FIA World Motor Sport Council last week - but the Woking-based outfit escaped any penalty as there was 'insufficient evidence that it had been used in such a way as to interfere improperly with the FIA Formula 1 World Championship'.

That decision led to an angry response from Ferrari who said that the ruling legitimised 'dishonest behaviour in F1 and sets a dangerous precedent' with the WMSC having found McLaren guilty but then failed to impose any sanctions.

Following the ruling, Luigi Macaluso - the president of the Italian automobile federation - sent a letter to Mosley in which he admitted that he found it difficult to see how McLaren had escaped punishment and said he felt the decision should go to the Court of Appeal, where Ferrari would be able to enjoy due rights of process.

"We must confess that we find it quite difficult to justify how a team has not been penalised while it has been found in breach of clause 151c of the International Sporting Code," he wrote. "The very fact that the breach of clause 151c has been assessed by the World Motor Sport Council means that all conditions of such breach were fulfilled. We cannot see why additional conditions would have to be demonstrated in order for a penalty to be inflicted.

"We fear that the decision of the World Motor Sport Council could create a precedent which, at this level of the sport and stage of the competition, would be highly inappropriate and detrimental for the sport. In any event, in view of the aforesaid, we respectfully suggest that you, in your capacity as President of the FIA, submit the matter to the International Court of Appeal of the FIA.

"This would also enable out license holder, Ferrari, on behalf of which we would take part to the proceedings, and perhaps other teams as well, to fully submit their position and protect their rights. In effect, Ferrari - as at least two other teams - attended the World Motor Sport Council in Paris as observers and not as a party. Accordingly, they did not have a full right of audience. As, however, Ferrari in any event had been seriously and directly affected by McLaren's behaviour, we deem it appropriate that Ferrari (directly or through ourselves) enjoys full rights of due process which would be the case in accordance with the rules applicable in front of the International Court of Appeal."

In a direct response to Macaluso, Mosley confirmed that the case will now go to the Court of Appeal where Ferrari will be able to give their version of the story.

"If, as you suggest, it were clear that several of McLaren's top team representatives were aware of the Ferrari information over a period of several months, the situation would indeed be very serious," the FIA president wrote. "Apart from using Ferrari's technical knowledge to give the McLaren cars an illegitimate advantage over the entire field, detailed knowledge of Ferrari's technical strategies would give McLaren significant and unfair advantages over Ferrari at every race.

"However McLaren's case was that, except for a tip-off in March and a drawing shown briefly to a colleague as a historical curiosity, no one at McLaren knew of or had access to any of that information. There are a number of suspicious elements, all of which the World Motor Sport Council took into account when reaching its decision. However, these suspicions did not amount to proof to the standard the Council felt was necessary in order to reject the evidence of McLaren's team principal and managing director and convict the team of an offence so grave as in all probability to warrant the exclusion from the Championship.

"Your letter suggests that the outcome may have been different if the Council had given Ferrari further opportunities to be heard beyond those that were in fact offered.

"Because of this and the importance of public confidence in the outcome, I will send this matter to the FIA Court of Appeal under article 23.1 of the FIA Statues with a request that the Court hear both Ferrari and McLaren and any other Championship competitor who so requests and determine whether the decision of the WMSC was appropriate and, if not, substitute such other decision as may be just."

An FIA spokesman has since told BBC Sport Online that the court will probably hear the case at the end of August.

 

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