McLaren will appear before the FIA World Motor Sport Council again today as the spy row rumbles on and on following the apparent emergence of 'new evidence'.

It has been a complicated affair and what follows is an UPDATED low down on events over the last four months...

June 22 2007: Ferrari confirms it is to take its head of performance development, Nigel Stepney to court. "It is not related to any event, it is related to his behaviour," a Ferrari spokesperson tells Reuters. The case will be heard in Modena.

June 24 2007: Nigel Stepney responds - while still on holiday - and tells The Sunday Times he is confident he will be cleared by the legal process. He adds he is the victim of a 'dirty tricks campaign'.

Speculation that the Ferrari investigation is to do with sabotage - after a white powder was apparently found in the petrol tank area of the Ferrari race cars, six days before the Monaco Grand Prix - is denied by Stepney's lawyer.

June 26 2007: Ferrari insist they are confident their 'sabotage' case against Nigel Stepney will be resolved in the Scuderia's favour. The Maranello-based squad claims it has 'compelling proof' the 47-year-old acted illegally

July 3 2007: Ferrari confirms Nigel Stepney has been dismissed from his role with the Scuderia.

July 3 2007: McLaren confirms that it has 'suspended a senior employee' (later named as Mike Coughlan) after 'this individual personally received a package of technical information from a Ferrari employee at the end of April.'

"Whilst McLaren has no involvement in the matter and condemns such actions it will fully co-operate with any investigation," adds the team in a statement. "The individual has in the meanwhile been suspended by the company pending a full and proper investigation of the matter."

July 4 2007: Ferrari names Stepney as the source of the suspected leak of technical secrets to arch rival McLaren.

"Ferrari announces it has recently presented a case against Nigel Stepney and an engineer from the Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes team with the Modena Tribunal, concerning the theft of technical information," a brief communiqu? from the Maranello team confirmed.

"Furthermore, legal action has been instigated in England and a search warrant has been issued concerning the engineer. This produced a positive outcome. Ferrari reserves the right to consider all implications, be they criminal, civil or of any other nature, according to the applicable laws."

July 4 2007: McLaren issues a statement saying that no intellectual property was passed onto another member of its team, or indeed incorporated into the design of their cars.

"McLaren has completed a thorough investigation and can confirm that no Ferrari intellectual property has been passed to any other members of the team or incorporated into its cars.

"McLaren has in the meanwhile openly disclosed these matters to the FIA and Ferrari and sought to satisfy any concerns that have arisen from this matter. In order to address some of the speculation McLaren has invited the FIA to conduct a full review of its cars to satisfy itself that the team has not benefited from any intellectual property of another competitor."

July 5 2007: F1 ringmaster, Bernie Ecclestone says McLaren drivers', Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton unlikely to lose points - if team are found guilty in spy row. He adds though that the team could be docked points.

July 6 2007: Nigel Stepney returns home to Italy after his holiday in the Philippines and admits he is 'surprised' to have been fired. Sources in Italy speculate he may not have acted alone.

July 6 2007: Honda dragged into spy row on the eve of the British GP after the Brackley-based outfit confirms that team principal Nick Fry met with Stepney and Coughlan last month. Honda statement stresses at 'no point during the meeting was any confidential information offered or received'.

July 7 2007: McLaren team boss, Ron Dennis says that the team will be vindicated in the spy row.

July 8 2007: Nigel Stepney denies giving any secret information to Coughlan. "I categorically deny that I copied them, or that I sent them to Mike Coughlan," he tells the British Sunday newspapers.

Stepney flees Italy after a number of high-speed car chases: "There was tracking gear on my car. Someone was going to get hurt. I had no option but to get out of Italy," Stepney adds.

July 8 2007: FIA president, Max Mosley contradicts Ecclestone and says McLaren drivers' could in fact be docked points too as a result of the spy row. "It is only in the most exceptional circumstances that a penalty for a team is different from a penalty for the driver," he tells The Times.

July 10 2007: Spy row goes to London High Court. Ferrari confirms tip off led to Coughlan, after his wife, Trudy, took the documents to a local photocopy shop. Ferrari's lawyers say they have behaved 'disgracefully'.

July 11 2007: High Court hearing called off after Coughlan provides a sworn declaration answering Ferrari's questions regarding how confidential information came to be in his possession.

July 12 2007: FIA summons McLaren to an extraordinary meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council to answer charges relating to the ongoing row surrounding suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan.

"The team representatives have been called to answer a charge that between March and July 2007, in breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes had unauthorised possession of documents and confidential information belonging to Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, including information that could be used to design, engineer, build, check, test, develop and/or run a 2007 Ferrari Formula One car."

July 12 2007: McLaren issue statement saying they are 'extremely disappointed' to have been asked to answer a charge of being in possession of certain documents and confidential information belonging to Ferrari.

"Whilst McLaren wishes to continue its full co-operation with any investigation into this matter, it does wish to make it very clear that the documents and confidential information were only in the possession of one currently suspended employee on an unauthorised basis and no element of it has been used in relation to McLaren's Formula 1 cars," says the team.

July 14 2007: David Coulthard tells British newspaper The Independent that McLaren will be found innocent: "I don't doubt Ron Dennis and McLaren's position on it," said the Scot, who of course drove for McLaren from 1996-2000. "They are too clever and their integrity too high to be involved."

July 15 2007: FIA says spy row could have implications for McLaren's drivers - echoing comments made by Mosley earlier in the month. "We don't call an emergency meeting of the World Motor Sport Council lightly," a spokesperson for the FIA told The Mail on Sunday.co.uk. "We cannot rule out the fact that any sanction against the team would have implications for the drivers."

July 16 2007: Ferrari test driver, Luca Badoer says he is 'stunned' by the spy row allegations.

July 16 2007: Coughlan says a number of people at the Woking-based outfit were aware that he had the 'secret' Ferrari dossier.

July 17 2007: McLaren issues a new statement denying that anyone other than Coughlan knew about the stolen Ferrari dossier prior to 3 July.

"McLaren is concerned that erroneous speculation has arisen from inaccurate and misleading reference to the contents of confidential legal papers filed at court in response to Ferrari's UK action to recover its intellectual property," read the statement. "This is unfortunate and is prejudicial to a fair interpretation of these matters.

"McLaren can confirm from its own investigation that no Ferrari materials or data are, or have ever been, in the possession of any McLaren employee other than the individual sued by Ferrari. The fact that he held, at his home, unsolicited materials from Ferrari was not known to any other member of the team prior to the 3 July 2007.

"Furthermore, McLaren has categorically established that no Ferrari information has, at any stage, been used to develop its car.

"McLaren looks forward to having the opportunity to present the complete and accurate picture of events in the appropriate forum, that is before the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 26 July 2007."

July 18 2007: Spotlight returns to 'third team'. Spanish FIA representative Joaquin Verdegay tells 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 was to sell it to another team, such as Honda."

July 18 2007: Stepney continues to say he is innocent, amid reports that he is ready to name the guilty parties who leaked the information to McLaren.

July 20 2007: Honda Racing team boss Nick Fry again claims that there was no hint of impropriety when he met with 'disgraced' pair Nigel Stepney and Mike Coughlan before the spy row saga became public knowledge.

Speaking at Friday's press conference at the Nurburgring, Fry repeated the facts surrounding his meetings with both men - it now appears that he met them on more than one occasion - but insists that there was nothing to suggest that technical information from Ferrari was on offer to his team.

July 26 2007: First FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing convenes to rule on the spy row.

McLaren escape punishment, even though the team was found to be in possession of the confidential Ferrari dossier.

The FIA ruled that there was 'insufficient evidence that it had been used in such a way as to interfere improperly with the FIA Formula 1 World Championship' and as such no penalty was given.

The WMSC warned though that if in future that information is used to the detriment of the sport, then they would recall the team to another hearing of the WSMC, where Ron Dennis' team will face the 'possibility of exclusion' from the 2007 - and the 2008 championship.

As for the role of McLaren's suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan and Ferrari's former head of performance development, Nigel Stepney, the two men at the centre of the row, the FIA has invited them to 'show reasons why they should not be banned from international motor sport for a lengthy period'.

The full statement from the FIA read:

"The WMSC is satisfied that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was in possession of confidential Ferrari information and is therefore in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code. However, there is insufficient evidence that this information was used in such a way as to interfere improperly with the FIA Formula OneWorld Championship. We therefore impose no penalty.

"But if it is found in the future that the Ferrari information has been used to the detriment of the championship, we reserve the right to invite Vodafone McLaren Mercedes back in front of the WMSC where it will face the possibility of exclusion from not only the 2007 championship but also the 2008 championship.

"The WMSC will also invite Mr Stepney and Mr Coughlan to show reason why they should not be banned from international motor sport for a lengthy period and the WMSC has delegated authority to deal with this matter to the legal department of the FIA."

July 26 2007: McLaren welcome verdict nothing ruling was 'fair and balanced'.

"Following an appearance by McLaren today at the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris, a unanimous decision has been taken by the FIA which in McLaren's opinion is very balanced and fair.

"McLaren accepts the that the FIA World Motor Sport Council had no alternative other than to find that there was a purely technical breach by reason of the possession of certain information by one individual at his home, without McLaren's knowledge or authority.

"McLaren is delighted that the World Motor Sport Council determined that this information was not used and accordingly imposed no sanction whatsoever on the team. McLaren looks forward to continuing its fight in what is the most exciting Drivers' and Constructors' World Championship in many years."

July 26 2007: Ferrari slams FIA decision.

A statement from Ferrari emphasised that how the World Motor Sport Council could conclude that they broke article 151c of the sporting regulations and then not apply any penalty was 'incomprehensible'.

The Maranello-based outfit also added that the decision 'legitimises dishonest behaviour in Formula 1 and sets a very serious precedent'.

July 30 2007: Speculation spy row verdict will be referred to FIA Court of Appeal intensifies, when Ferrari boss, Jean Todt reveals that the Scuderia haven't ruled out taking further action

July 30 2007: F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone confirms he thinks Ferrari will take matter to FIA Court of Appeal.

July 31 2007: Nigel Stepney once again insists that he was not the man responsible for leaking secret documents to Mike Coughlan. Speaking to Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, Stepney added that the person or persons responsible are still at the Scuderia - and that he was 'set up'.

July 31 2007: FIA re-opens spy case. FIA president Max Mosley refers matter to FIA Court of Appeal after Luigi Macaluso - the president of the Italian automobile federation - sent a letter to him in which he admitted that he found it difficult to see how McLaren had escaped punishment.

Macaluso added he felt the decision should go to the Court of Appeal, where Ferrari would be able to enjoy due rights of process.

July 31 2007: McLaren issue a statement noting the only reason FIA president, Max Mosley has referred the 'spy row' to the FIA International Court of Appeal is because of a 'thoroughly misleading' press campaign by the Scuderia.

The Woking-based outfit adds that while they are 'disappointed' the saga will now go on, they are 'confident' they will be exonerated again. Indeed with no new evidence, as far as they are aware, to consider, McLaren believe it should be something of a formality.

August 1 2007: Ferrari press on with legal proceedings.

August 2 2007: McLaren boss, Ron Dennis hits out at Ferrari accusing the Scuderia of having won the season opening, Australian Grand Prix with an illegal car, as well as making 'grossly misleading' statements with regard to the spy row.

In an open 3000-word letter to Luigi Macaluso, the president of the Italian Automobile Club, ACI-CSAI - and the man who called on FIA president Max Mosley to refer the matter to the appeal court, Dennis added that the team's 'reputation has been unfairly sullied'.

Dennis also disputes Ferraris claims that they didn't have a chance to state their side of the story at the WMSC hearing on July 26, noting that they had the chance to state their case both in writing and orally.

August 3 2007: Luigi Macaluso, the president of the Italian Automobile Club, ACI-CSAI responds to Ron Dennis' open letter.

"It is apparent from your letter that there is a distinct difference between McLaren's view of events and that of Ferrari. It therefore seems appropriate for the matter to be reviewed by the International Court of Appeal," he wrote.

"It is not my role nor would it be appropriate for me to answer your various points. It will be for the Court of Appeal to do so.

"In any event, I would limit myself to stress that McLaren was found in breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, but nevertheless escaped any penalty. As Mr Mosley indicated in his letter of 31 July 2007, it is important for the World Championship that the correct outcome is reached. It is clearly in the interest of the sport that the appropriate precedent for dealing with events such as these is set."

August 4 2007: Renault boss, Flavio Briatore says spy row is damaging sport.

August 8 2007: Spy row appeal date set for Thursday September 13.

September 5 2007: Spy row takes new twist when FIA confirms 'new evidence' has emerged. Matter is referred back to WMSC. Max Mosley's referral of the matter to the International Court of Appeal is withdrawn.

September 6 2007: McLaren issue a statement saying they will co-operate fully.

September 7-9 2007: Row of words between McLaren and Ferrari continues to escalate over the Italian GP weekend.

September 7 2007: FIA confirms letter has been sent to the McLaren drivers' asking them for their assistance.

"As you will be aware, the FIA has recently investigated whether, how and to what extent McLaren was in possession of confidential Ferraritechnical information," read the FIA letter sent separately to Alonso, Hamilton and teat driver, Pedro de la Rosa.

"The FIA has subsequently been made aware of an allegation that one or more McLaren drivers may be in possession, or that such drivers have recently been in possession, of written evidence relevant to this investigation.

"In the interests of the sport and the Championship it is important that the FIA as the regulator establishes unequivocally and rapidly whether or not this allegation has any basis in fact.

"The FIA therefore formally requests that you produce copies of any relevant documents which may be in your possession or power of procurement and which may be relevant to this case."

September 8 2007:

Court officials from Modena visit McLaren and the team is informed they are part of an on-going investigation. Team could face charges.

McLaren note that the timing was no coincidence:

"McLaren did receive some contact from the Italian authorities yesterday but was not charged with anything," read another statement to the press.

"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."

September 11 2007: Jean Todt says that if McLaren is cleared of any misdoing in F1's spy scandal for the second time, the Scuderia is prepared to take the matter to the civil courts.

September 11 2007: Rumours Renault will be dragged into spy row surface.

According to Spanish newspaper Marca, McLaren boss Ron Dennis has information about potential transgressions by the Enstone team that could see an immediate expulsion' from the world championship.

It is believed Dennis could bring the details to light at Thursday's World Motor Sport Council hearing in retribution for what he sees as unnecessary involvement in the spy row by Reanult boss Flavio Briatore.

September 13 2007: FIA World Motor Sport Council re-convenes to examine the 'new evidence'.

What happens next? Stay tuned to Crash.net to find out...

 

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