Disgraced former Ferrari technical manager Nigel Stepney has thrown further fuel onto the fire surrounding the Formula 1 spying row after suggesting that Ferrari got off lightly following investigations into the affair.

McLaren were fined a record $100 million and were thrown out of the constructors' championship after the FIA found the team guilty of being in possession of confidential Ferrari documentation - which had been passed to McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan by Stepney himself.

An initial hearing of the World Motor Sport Council said it couldn't prove that the information Coughlan had received had been used by McLaren but e-mails exchanged between the designer and drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso led to the council reconvening and handing down the penalty that has overshadowed the fight for the 2007 title.

In the whole saga, McLaren have been the only people to be penalised thus far, with the decision handing the constructors' title to Ferrari on a plate, but Stepney admitted he was surprised that his former team have escaped without punishment - stating that the flow of information hadn't been all one-way...

"I got information about when they [McLaren] were stopping," he told grandprix.com. "I got weight distribution, I got other aspects of various parts of their car from him [Coughlan]. Ferrari got off very lightly. I was their employee at the time. I was aware of certain stuff they were doing at tests, fuel levels, for example. I knew what fuel level they were running. I think they should have been docked points personally.

"The question is: Did I use the information, did I talk about it? That's the big question. I spoke to some people about it. I can't prove it, there are no e-mails or anything. Points about the fuel and the differences [between Ferrari and McLaren] were discussed inside. As well as McLaren having an advantage, did Ferrari have an advantage? I think so.

"It looks like information flowing only one way. No-one has been balancing the argument. No-one has asked the question. They were thinking Mike was asking the questions and I was answering them."

However, Ferrari has moved quickly to counter Stepney's claims, with a spokesman telling the BBC that the comments of its former employee were not credible.

"We cannot take into consideration quotes from a man like him," he said, "a man who gave 780 pages of Ferrari documents to the chief designer of McLaren, who exchanged 320 e-mails and SMS messages with him.

"Can he sound credible talking about that?"

 

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