Spy scandal taints Renault

Renault’s future in F1 could be affected by the outcome of a World Motor Sport Council investigation into the team’s own spy scandal in Monaco on December 6.

Many observers believe that it will be hard for the FIA not to take action that reflects the scale of the punishment inflicted upon McLaren in September, but a heavy fine will not be well received by the French manufacturer’s board.

The team has admitted that design engineer Phil Mackereth brought several floppy discs of material with him when he joined from McLaren in September 2006. This information was loaded into Renault’s IT system and printouts were seen by a significant number of technical personnel, although the team insists that no use was made of the information, which the FIA has revealed relates to areas such as McLaren’s fuel, oil cooling and hydraulic systems.

Renault’s involvement first came to light when McLaren’s investigations into the Stepney/Coughlan affair revealed that Mackereth had taken the data with him exactly a year earlier. Flavio Briatore learned of the suspicions via a third party and conducted his own investigation, while also suspending Mackereth. He approached Ron Dennis at the Italian GP and informed him of the situation.