Alonso move in limbo as McLaren-Renault rift grows
Friday 23 November 2007
As talks on Fernando Alonso rejoining Renault appear to have stalled – yesterday the Spaniard's manager, Luis Garcia Abad, said he is in no hurry to complete a deal – relations between Renault and the McLaren team continued to deteriorate ahead of the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Monte Carlo on 6 December, which will investigate McLaren's claim that Renault had unauthorised possession of a significant amount of their confidential technical information.
McLaren's legal dossier is now believed to include 18 witness statements provided by Renault F1 employees, admitting they viewed the McLaren data on 11 separate Renault F1-owned computers, and three independent forensic computer reports provided by Kroll Ontrack.
McLaren's complaint to the FIA council is believed to alledge that in March last year, around the time that design engineer Phil Mackereth left McLaren to join Renault, 33 files of McLaren confidential technical information were copied on to 11 disks and loaded on to Renault F1's computer system that September. These files are said to contain more than 780 drawings outlining the entire technical blueprint of the 2006 and 2007 McLaren cars.
The same sources also allege that seven very senior engineers – Tim Densham (chief designer); Martin Tolliday (deputy chief designer); James Allison (deputy technical director); Robin Tuluie (head of research and development); Nicholas Chester (head of vehicle performance); Peter Duffy (head of mechanical design); and Tony Osgood (head of transmission design) – saw all the data.
McLaren's solicitors, Baker McKenzie, contend, in the dossier submitted to the FIA: "It is clear that McLaren's confidential design information was knowingly, deliberately and widely disseminated and discussed within the Renault F1 design and engineering team." Renault deny the sort of wrongdoing for which McLaren were fined $100m £50m) in September, and forfeited all their points in the constructors' World Championship.
As Alonso holidayed and ignored the Renault managing director Flavio Briatore's deadline yesterday, the Williams driver Nico Rosberg continued to deny he will replace the Spaniard as Lewis Hamilton's team-mate at McLaren. Pedro de la Rosa and Heikki Kovalainen remain favourites.
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