Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has personally invited the Surrey photocopy shop employee who helped uncover the McLaren 'Spygate' scandal to Italy to thank him.

The saga is one that rocked the sport to its core during the second half of the 2007 Formula 1 campaign, and one that was only recently brought to a conclusion with the FIA and World Motor Sport Council agreeing to draw a line under the whole affair earlier this week (see separate story - click here).

The unnamed employee tipped off Ferrari that somebody had copied 780 pages of their technical data in June. The dossier in question was subsequently discovered at the home of McLaren's former chief designer Mike Coughlan

"If it had not been for that photocopy man we would not have known anything about this story," international news agency Reuters quotes Montezemolo as having told reporters on Wednesday at the legendary Italian marque's end-of-year celebrations at their Maranello headquarters. "That's why we have invited him to the Mugello race track and will invite him to our factory."

As a result of the ensuing investigation by the sport's governing body, McLaren was fined a sporting record $100 million USD, and excluded from the 2007 constructors' world championship. Until this week, its 2008 challenger was also due to be strenuously reviewed before being cleared to take to the track next season.

Montezemolo had already paid tribute to the anonymous employee, by dedicating Kimi Raikkonen's triumph in September's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps to the "English gentleman who in the month of June wanted to inform us that someone linked to an opponent team entered into his shop and asked him to copy dozens of pages containing technical information about our car".

Furthermore, the 60-year-old - who confirmed he would step down as president of Italy's business federation Confindustria in March, thereby enabling him to focus more on Ferrari - spoke effusively about current drivers Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, moving to shun speculation that double former world champion Fernando Alonso could find a home at the Scuderia in 2009.

"If we have a problem," he asserted, speaking to Italian TV channel Rai, "it is not a problem with the drivers."



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