Bernie Ecclestone has said that he fought to prevent McLaren from being thrown out of this year's Formula One world championship as the 'spygate' affair was debated in Paris on Thursday.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Ecclestone revealed that the Woking operation 'minutes away' from expulsion from both the 2007 and 2008 campaigns after new evidence showed that information leaked from Ferrari had been discussed more widely within the team than first anticipated.

McLaren was eventually stripped of all its constructors' points - drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were spared their individual totals after giving evidence - and fined $100 million, but allowed to continue racing this year.

"It came very close to McLaren being thrown out, it really was a genuine possibility," Ecclestone insisted, "A few of us sort of battled on and campaigned for the fine instead.

"The alternative was worse, being excluded from the championship for two years. It was much closer than everybody says it was, [and] it really would have been bad news. McLaren would have lost more than they have been fined - if they'd have been able to keep going."

Ecclestone also revealed that an unnamed individual leaving the meeting before the decision to impose the fine was taken had mistakenly leaked suggestions that the team had been excluded, leading to erroneous reports in some sections of the media.

Despite the crusade, however, the sport's commercial guru admitted that any future case would receive the harshest punishment.

"Formula One is now more open than it has ever been because the threat is definitely there now if any team is helping anyone else," he explained, "Even if it is a smaller team than McLaren, they're gone, without any hesitation."

 

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