FIA president Max Mosley has insisted that the governing body had little option but to check on the legality of the 2008 McLaren-Mercedes car to ensure a level playing field for the new Formula 1 season.

The decision to look into the car came after McLaren was found guilty by the World Motor Sport Council of being in possession of confidential Ferrari documentation that had been passed to Mike Coughlan by disgraced Ferrari employee Nigel Stepney.

It led to McLaren being excluded from the constructors' championship and also hit with a $100million fine, with the FIA then announcing it would check McLaren's new car to ensure that none of the Ferrari information had been used in its design.

Those checks are expected to take place in the near future as F1 heads towards its brief winter break, and Mosley admitted it was necessary to look into the new car to ensure that it fully complies with the rules and regulations.

"It depends how you look at it," he told The Paddock. "We don't know, but just suppose the 2008 McLaren incorporates everything from the 2007 Ferrari that McLaren had not already got themselves. That would be possible, whereas it would not have been possible, having received all those documents on 28 April, to incorporate much of that intellectual property in the 2007 McLaren, because that car was already running. But they could put just about all of it in the 2008 McLaren, were they so inclined.

"Now, if they'd done that and we didn't look, it would be absolutely unfair not just on Ferrari, but on all the other teams too. If we want a level playing field, we've got to make sure, as far as we're able, that the 2008 McLaren doesn't incorporate any Ferrari intellectual property that's been illegitimately required. There's a distinction because some things they can legitimately observe in the pit-lane or whatever. We're only interested in the illegitimate.

"The only way we could ascertain that was to have a major inquiry, which we've had, and to the best of my knowledge McLaren have fully cooperated. It meant getting forensic computer experts in there, looking at all their computers, interviewing the relevant engineers. Unless we did that, how could we say that the sport was on a level playing field? I hope it will turn out that there's absolutely nothing. But it would be utterly wrong for us not to look."

 

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