Bernie Ecclestone has claimed spying will always be a part of Formula 1, as the latest espionage scandal to rock the sport in 2007 gets set to play out before the World Motor Sport Council next week.

Just eight days away from Renault's appearance before the FIA in Paris, charged with possessing confidential information belonging to a rival team in much the same way as McLaren was charged - and heavily punished - back in September, the sport's supremo insisted trying to prevent the transfer of private data from one squad to another was little more than a pipe dream.

"There has always been spying ever since I have been in Formula 1," Ecclestone said in an interview with German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, published in English on the official Formula 1 website. "It is a little bit more sophisticated than it was. In the old days, one guy would employ somebody and they would take the information he brings with him.

"In a way, it is still happening today. Red Bull employed Adrian Newey. Why did they do that? They took him on-board because he's got years of information about what to do and what not [to do]. I do not imagine he came with any drawings, but he came with all his knowledge in his head. We cannot stop that.

"If I am running a private hospital, I would engage the best surgeons I could find. If I hear about a guy who had done 30 heart transplants successfully somewhere else, then I am going to employ him because he has proven he can do it. You haven't bought anything except knowledge. I cannot tell you to forget everything you have done."

What's more, the 77-year-old suggested the spying row should not be a matter for the sport's governing body to deal with, but rather one for the police, and indeed argued the 'Spygate' saga could have been resolved with far less drama - and, more crucially still, without doing so much damage to the sport's reputation.

"They [the FIA] should keep out of it," Ecclestone urged. "I did tell [McLaren team principal] Ron Dennis, when the whole mess started, to report to the police that there was a case of theft. Tell them there is an employee in the house who is receiving or purchasing stolen property.

"When the information became available to Ron Dennis that something was going on in his company, he should have called [Ferrari CEO Jean] Todt and said 'Listen Jean, something funny is going on, let's get together'.

"They would have met, both would have informed the police, who then would have investigated the matter and we would have known what really happened. If it was dealt in that way, we would not have had the problems we faced this year. It should be a matter for the police and the court. They have much better tools to find out the truth.

"I talk often about the good old days, and probably they weren't good old days, but at least we used to sort these problems out by ourselves. Nowadays every team has got five lawyers, three doctors, two masseurs, a psychologist, and all of them want to work, so if there is the chance to cause trouble they do cause trouble.

"Without all these people, the teams would not need to do all this and we would have solved the problems internally."

McLaren received an unprecedented penalty of a $100,000 USD fine and disqualification from the 2007 constructors' world championship back in the summer, for having been caught in possession of secret Ferrari information. Ecclestone would not be drawn on whether he thought - if found guilty - Renault may face a similar punishment, one that many believe could drive the R?gie to withdraw from F1 altogether.

"I do not know the extent of what they have done and what they have not done," he added. "I think the difference between them and McLaren is that McLaren were getting information over a person, rather than somebody having stolen a lot of drawings in one go."

 

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