Nigel Stepney, who has been credited with playing a key role in the successes of Ferrari during the 2000s, has died at the age of 55 after a road traffic accident.
The Briton, who later achieved notoriety for his part in the 2007 Formula 1 ‘Spygate’ industrial espionage affair, was employed in 1993 at the behest of Ferrari designer John Barnard. His recruitment, which pre-dated the arrival of Jean Todt, Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn, was an important step in the Scuderia becoming the efficient racing team that was able to win five F1 world titles with Schumacher.
After he was dismissed by Ferrari for leaking confidential technical information to McLaren, he ended up working for Gigawave, running its on-board camera business before going on to supervise its short-lived GT team.
After Gigawave closed its racing operation at the end of 2009, Stepney persuaded one of its potential sponsors, Sumo Power, to set up its own team to mastermind Nissan’s assault on the new FIA GT1 World Championship. Under the banner of Sumo parent company JRM, it won the title with Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr the following season.
Stepney was still working for JRM at the time of his death. He is survived by partner Ash and young daughter Sabine, as well as three children from an earlier marriage.