Part 2

The "Ferrari Documents"

I turn now to the events which occurred later in the year between Mr Stepney and Mr Coughlan and in particular to the provision of a "dossier" of Ferrari Documents by Mr Stepney to Mr Coughlan at a meeting in Barcelona on Saturday 28 April 2007. As I will explain, these events are quite separate from Mr Stepney's whistle blowing in March 2007, because during this period Mr Coughlan was acting secretly, in breach of his contract with McLaren, and for his own private purposes, quite conceivably as part of a scheme to leave McLaren and join another team together with Mr Stepney.

The background to the meeting on Saturday 28 April 2007 is that in early April 2007, Mr Coughlan told Mr Neale that despite his best efforts to cut off contact, Mr Stepney continued to contact him to express grievances about his lot with Ferrari. Mr Neale arranged for the installation of a "firewall" on McLaren's computer system to stop emails from Mr Stepney. In addition to this Mr Coughlan said to Mr Neale that the only way he thought that this would stop is if Mr Coughlan spoke to Mr Stepney face to face and told him to stop trying to contact him. Mr Neale agreed that he could do this outside working hours.

On Saturday 28th April 2007, Mr Coughlan went to Barcelona and met Mr Stepney. Only Mr Coughlan and Mr Stepney know what truly happened at that meeting. So far as McLaren was concerned, however, when Mr Coughlan returned to work, he told Mr Neale that his meeting with Mr Stepney had achieved its objective and he believed that Mr Stepney would not contact him again.

After this, no-one at McLaren heard anything more about contact between Mr Stepney and Mr Coughlan until 3 July 2007. Everyone at McLaren assumed that the issue of Mr Stepney contacting Mr Coughlan to express grievances had been resolved.

On 3 July 2007, Ferrari executed a search order at Mr Coughlan's home and seized two CDs containing Ferrari Documents. I emphasise that these documents were found at Mr Coughlan's home. No Ferrari Documents were found at McLaren's offices.

As is now in the public domain, Mr Coughlan has admitted that Mr Stepney gave him a dossier of Ferrari Documents in Barcelona which he took for his own private reasons, he says "engineering curiosity". He kept these Documents at his home, and later with the assistance of his wife copied onto two CDs at a shop near their home, before shredding the originals using a home shredder and burning them in his back garden. Mr Coughlan says that he made no use of the Documents at work and that no one else at McLaren knew that he had taken the Documents.

Since Ferrari discovered that Mr Coughlan had the Ferrari Documents at his home, it has gone to extraordinary lengths to try to maximise the damage to McLaren, no doubt hoping to gain some advantage for the World Championship. In particular, Ferrari has alleged, without any justification, that other McLaren staff were aware of what Mr Coughlan had done and that McLaren made some use of the Documents. Ferrari has no evidence whatsoever for these offensive and false allegations and presented no such evidence to the World Motor Sports Council. The Council quite correctly rejected these allegations.

As regards Ferrari's allegation that other McLaren staff were aware of what Mr Coughlan had done, in its statements to the press, Ferrari has tried to confuse the March 2007 whistle-blowing by Mr Stepney (which McLaren did know about) with the events on and following 28 April 2007 (which Mr Coughlan kept completely secret). Let me make it clear: McLaren did know about the whistle blowing matters in March 2007 - indeed it reported these matters to the FIA. However that has nothing to do with what Mr Coughlan did on and after 28 April 2007. McLaren management and staff had no knowledge whatsoever about that.

In addition to this, Ferrari has tried to latch on to two instances where Mr Coughlan has stated that he showed single pages which he says were from the Ferrari Documents to two other McLaren staff: Mr Taylor (another McLaren engineer who had previously worked with Mr Coughlan when they were both at Ferrari) and Mr Neale (Mr Coughlan's superior). The Council has fully investigated these instances, and concluded quite rightly that neither Mr Taylor nor Mr Neale were aware that the single pages they were shown were Ferrari confidential information, still less that they were part of a dossier of several hundred pages which Mr Coughlan had secretly received and kept at his house.

So far as Mr Taylor is concerned, Mr Coughlan briefly showed him a single diagram. Mr Taylor had no idea whether this was an old or new diagram and had no idea it came from Mr Stepney. He was not given a copy and made no use of the diagram. He paid no attention to the incident.

As for Mr Neale, he had an informal meeting at a restaurant on 25 May 2007 to discuss a request Mr Coughlan had made for an early release from his contract of employment with McLaren.

Towards the end of this Mr Coughlan began to show Mr Neale two images, but Mr Neale stated that he was not interested in seeing them. Mr Neale has stated that these images did not appear to have any connection with Ferrari or any other team. When asked at the hearing about this, Mr Neale said that although this was only speculation on his part, he thought that Mr Coughlan was about to refer to the images to seek resources from him for digital mock up equipment.

In short these instances did not alert Mr Taylor or Mr Neale that Mr Coughlan had taken possession of the Ferrari Documents. Neither they nor any other member of McLaren staff had any idea what Mr Coughlan had done.

I turn then to Ferrari's allegation that McLaren somehow made use of the Ferrari Documents which Mr Coughlan kept secretly at his home.

Mr Coughlan himself is categoric that he made no use of the Ferrari documents in the McLaren car. Mr Coughlan's job related to the management of drawing production by the design staff and their sign off prior to issue to our production facilities. He did not have responsibility for the performance enhancement of the car. This function lies with the Chief Engineers and R&D Team who report to the Engineering Director, Patrick Lowe, who provided detailed evidence to the World Motor Sport Council. An important part of Mr Coughlan's job was, however, monitoring the testing and reliability of the car throughout the year. In addition to this functional analysis, McLaren has conducted a very thorough physical and electronic search (conducted by Kroll) and a thorough engineering study conducted by Patrick Lowe to see if any of the Ferrari Documents were or are at McLaren or if any use of such documents has actually been made in relation to the McLaren car. This investigation has confirmed that none of the Ferrari Documents were at McLaren as opposed to at Mr Coughlan's home and that there is no possibility that any of the information in those Documents could have been used on any development on the McLaren car. At the hearing, McLaren demonstrated clearly to the satisfaction of the World Motor Sport Council that no use whatsoever has been made of any of the contents of the Ferrari documents in the McLaren car.

Accordingly, Ferrari's continued allegations in the press that McLaren has made use of the Ferrari Documents are entirely false.

I deal lastly with Mr Coughlan's true motives for taking and keeping the Ferrari Documents. Although McLaren cannot know for sure what Mr Coughlan's (and Mr Stepney's) motives were, what McLaren do know is that only a few days after the 28th April Mr Stepney contacted Honda (on 2 May) and commenced a process whereby Mr Stepney and Mr Coughlan together offered their services to join Honda. McLaren believes that it is highly likely that Mr Stepney provided the Ferrari Documents to Mr Coughlan as part of a joint scheme to seek employment at another team.

These are the facts. Although McLaren does not know for sure what Mr Stepney's purpose was in passing the Ferrari Documents to Mr Coughlan and what Mr Coughlan's purpose was in receiving them, McLaren does know for sure that Mr Coughlan acted secretly and that the Ferrari Documents were not used in the McLaren car but that Mr Stepney and Mr Coughlan were looking to leaving Ferrari and McLaren to join another team. It is fact that Mr Coughlan never passed the Ferrari documents to anyone else at McLaren or told anyone at McLaren that he had these documents. It is fact that no-one at McLaren knew that Mr Coughlan had received any documents from Mr Stepney on the 28th April. It is fact that Mr Coughlan had been told by his superior Mr Neale to stop all contact with Mr Stepney straight after the Australian Grand Prix.

Other matters

Your letter also suggests that the outcome might have been different if the Council had given Ferrari further opportunities to be heard beyond those offered. I again ask you to look at the real facts, which are that Ferrari fully participated in the hearing before the Council.

First, Ferrari submitted a lengthy, albeit grossly misleading, memorandum dated 16th July 2007 along with supporting documents which together totalled 118 pages. Ferrari did not send McLaren the memorandum. The memorandum was circulated to the Council on the 20 July. McLaren did not see it until two days before the hearing and it was only then that we were able to correct its grossly inaccurate contents. In the meantime, the misleading Ferrari memorandum or sections of it appear to have been leaked to the Italian press as much of the Italian press reports echo elements of that memorandum.

In addition to this Ferrari, who were represented by lawyers, were given several opportunities by the FIA President to ask questions and make submissions throughout the hearing. Mr Todt also gave evidence. It was clear that the FIA President afforded Ferrari every opportunity to be heard in order to ensure that all relevant matters were heard by the WMSC. Indeed, at the very end of the proceeding, Ferrari intervened with a request to make further closing comments. Ferrari's request was permitted and their lawyer proceeded to make further detailed closing comments at some length.

I therefore simply do not understand what basis there is for Ferrari's claim that it was denied an opportunity to put its case. It put its case both in writing and orally.

I respectfully ask you and the ACI-CSAI to look at the hard facts of this matter in an objective and fair manner rather than being influenced by selective and misleading statements put out with the object of damaging McLaren. The reason McLaren was not penalised is that the World Motor Sport Council rightly concluded that it should not be blamed for Mr Coughlan's actions. It based its decision on solid facts and not false innuendo. McLaren's reputation has been unfairly sullied by incorrect press reports from Italy and grossly misleading statements from Ferrari.

This is a fantastic World Championship and it would be a tragedy if one of the best World Championships in years was derailed by the acts of one Ferrari and one McLaren employee acting for their own purposes wholly unconnected with Ferrari or McLaren. We believe that the Ferrari press releases, the leaks to the Italian press and recent events have been damaging to Formula 1 as well as McLaren. The World Championship should be contested on the track not in Courts or in the press.

We will naturally present our case before the FIA Court of Appeal as we strongly believe McLaren has done nothing wrong. It is our belief that justice will prevail and that McLaren will not be penalised.

Yours sincerely,

Ron Dennis CBE

CC:
Max Mosley, President FIA
Jean Todt, CEO Ferrari SpA

 

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