Renault technical chief Bob Bell has admitted that he feels engineer Phil Mackereth was 'reckless' in his actions that led to the regie being dragged into the Formula 1 spying row and hadn't set out to give his new employees any kind of unfair advantage.

Mackereth moved from McLaren to Renault in September 2006, with news then emerging twelve months later that the engineer had brought information with him following the switch that had been seen by other members of the technical team.

It led to Renault being called to appear before the World Motor Sport Council after being charged with a breach of Article 151(c) of the International Sporting Code - a charge similar to the one faced by McLaren following the first instalment of the spying saga - with Bell speaking up for his man during the hearing on 6 December.

"Mr Mackereth is a very genuine and straightforward individual," he told the WMSC in transcripts revealed by the FIA. "He is someone I would trust. He is someone with a high degree or respect within his peer groups. That is true within McLaren as much as it is in Renault.

"His actions in this situation were stupidity, naivete and a degree or recklessness - and little more than that. There is no malevolence; there is no intention to deliberately do wrong or to cheat. This is not in his make-up. He is very genuinely one of the most straightforward engineers operating in Formula One."

Bell also went into some detail about the investigation that had been carried out within the team that had shown that the information in Mackereth's possession hadn't influenced the design of the Renault car.

"The Renault team in the UK employs over 500 people," he explained. "At last count, over 90 per cent of those people - 450 people - are involved directly in technical matters, supported by a very small back office.

"If I were to carry out a complete survey of the technical staff in the organisation, it would have taken a very long time, would not have made good business sense and would not have uncovered more than we have learned today. It is my responsibility, as head of the technical organisation, to judge how that organisation operates. It was my judgement that we start the investigation in a pyramidal fashion, making a cross-section of the engineers who would know whether any information had passed from external sources into our organisation and influenced the design of our cars. I selected 18 engineers whom I felt would give me the answer to that question. That formed the basis for my investigation.

"I worked with the principle that, if I had any suspicion whatsoever that the technical leaders in my group had people working under them with knowledge or information that they did not have, then I would expand the investigation to a lower level. I was absolutely satisfied that, after initially speaking to 18 engineers, and subsequently two more junior engineers, that no information had been disseminated into our organisation beneath that level. I was absolutely satisfied that I could be certain of all of the people who had any contact with McLaren information. As we sit here today, I remain convinced of the correctness of that assertion.

"I remain absolutely satisfied that the only information seen by our engineers were the four drawings that have so far been discussed today. I am absolutely adamant that the information was not used by Renault to influence the design of its cars."

Mackereth himself was called to give evidence under cross-examination and said he had never intended to pass the McLaren information - covering the internal layout of the fuel tank, the basic layout of the gear clusters, a tuned mass damper and a suspension damper - on to anybody else.

"I did it in March [2006]," he said, when asked about the eleven floppy discs that he had used to take the various drawings. "This may have been before or after handing in my notice; I am not sure.

"I did it for a combination of reasons; mainly in order to maintain a record, for myself, of the work I had done at McLaren and of which I was very proud; the other reasons had to do with professional interest and some insecurity at joining my new job. I had no intention of disclosing it to my new employers."

Renault was found guilty of being in possession of the information by the FIA, but was given no penalty.

To read the full 77-page transcript in its entirety, click HERE.

 

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