Bernie Ecclestone has refuted reports that quoted him as saying McLaren will be hit with a pre-season points deduction should anything suggest that information from Ferrari has influenced the design of its 2008 car.

F1's commercial ringmaster was quoted by the German media as saying that the espionage row that tarred the 2007 campaign could rumble on into next season should FIA inspectors produce evidence to suggest that the data passed by Ferrari's Nigel Stepney to McLaren designer Mike Coughlan had been used on the MP4-23. However, he now denies making claims that McLaren could start the season with a negative points total.

"I certainly didn't say that they were going to lose their points," Ecclestone told Reuters, referring to an interview in German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, "I can't say it and Max Mosley can't say it.

"What Max said after the last World Council Meeting was that if [the FIA] found anything on the [McLaren] car, they could be [penalised]. But they have got to have found something in there for a start, and then the World Council has got to agree to it. So no-one, including Max Mosley, can say anything about that whole thing."

McLaren was fined $100 million and stripped of points accumulated in the constructors' championship after an appeal hearing found in favour of Ferrari, and FIA president Mosley said that a close eye would be kept on the development of the 2008 McLaren entry in an effort to determine whether any of the information contained in the leaked 700+ page dossier had influenced the design process. Speaking in the days after the hearing, Mosley told the BBC that the team could face 'a negative point allocation' should there be any suspicion of foul play.

McLaren has always denied that the Ferrari data played any part in the development of its 2007 car - although it was later revealed that more people than initially claimed knew about the information - and claim that it is not worried by the presence of FIA inspectors.

 

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