Dennis 'considered retirement' amid spying accusations

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The Independent Online

McLaren are as confident in the robustness of their defence against allegations of espionage and cheating, ahead of Thursday's reconvened meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council, as they were prior to the start of Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Monza, in which they crushed Ferrari.

On Sunday evening a clearly emotional Ron Dennis, McLaren's team principal, revealed he had considered retirement already this year, and there have been suggestions that, if he were to reconsider it, the team's problems would disappear. But he said: "It's the most extreme situation I have experienced in Formula One. I have thought about resignation, but don't think it would be appropriate.

"I am sure if the McLaren Group are considered to be responsible for something, logically one of the solutions that may be seen [is] for me not to be running it. But I will not allow it to sway my own judgement. In these circumstances I don't want to feel pressured into something I don't think is part of the agenda."

Ferrari's team, principal Jean Todt, countered by promising further action if the outcome on Thursday does not meet his requirements. "For us, it is something which is too important and we will move forwards in Italy," he said. "I'm not going to comment on what the decision will be, or then what can happen once the decision will be taken, but we will move on with a civil court in the UK as well if necessary."

Todt added that he had no influence on any penalty were McLaren to be found guilty. "It's not a menu where we get, 'Would you prefer No 1? No 2?' That's the FIA, the World Council, who will have to decide with the evidence that they will have in hand."

While Dennis can expect a rough ride, Todt might also find the experience less than comfortable, according to McLaren sources who are preparing to fight fire with fire by presenting fresh evidence of their own.

Last weekend in Monza, Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One rights holder, was engaged in intensive if unsuccessful diplomacy as he sought a solution. The dispute is seriously damaging the sport's reputation and, in Germany, giving rise to comparisons with the disgraced Tour de France.

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