The “confession” by McLaren yesterday looks rather damning on the face of it. But it is well known that to stop getting punished you have to confess, even if you didn’t do it. When you read between the lines, McLaren have actually confessed to very little.
In terms of “copied” Ferrari information, the smoking gun is there — but for stuff that everyone had access to. So the 2008 McLaren has a longer wheelbase? Big deal — it wasn’t exactly top secret that the F2007 had a long wheelbase. It was well known long before the start of last season.
What is really telling about all of this is the way the two branches of FIArrari (the racing team that masquerades as the FIA and the governing body that calls itself Ferrari) have reacted to this — in complete tandem, would you believe! You couldn’t make it up.
Every single movement by Max Mosley, the FIA and the World Motor Sport Council on this Stepneygate scandal since June has been calculated to maximise the embarrassment of the McLaren team as an organisation and Ron Dennis as an individual.
The first WMSC meeting stuck the knife in. Then in September Mosley inserted it further. Last week he gave the knife a jolly good twist when it was revealed at the last minute that they weren’t going to clear the McLaren car until February. They had said they were going to judge on it last week. “Just kidding Ron! We’re going to make you suffer for a few months yet.”
By then, it had become obvious what game the maFIA was playing at all along. There was no way McLaren could risk waiting until just a few weeks before the start of the season to find out if their car would be given the all-clear — particularly given the FIA’s hostile attitude towards the McLaren team. There was every chance that the car would not have been cleared, McLaren would have been thrown out of the Championship.
In the end, McLaren were faced with no choice but to fall on their own sword rather than go through Max Mosley’s bizarre torture methods. The fact that the FIA have now offered to close the matter as a result of this apology speaks volumes. The FIA and Ferrari were not interested in justice one iota. If they were, they would not seek to close the matter just because McLaren said sorry. They would continue to investigate the car and meet in February as promised.
Rather, the FIA and Ferrari’s main goal was to embarrass McLaren in the most public, torturous, long-winded way possible. Having now maximised that embarrassment, they have decided they have had enough of their games and are now “graciously” offering closure.