Police quiz McLaren team members on spying claims

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The Independent Online

McLaren yesterday confirmed that, as part of the ongoing Italian investigation into last year's "Stepneygate" formula one spy scandal, several team personnel were questioned in the UK by representatives of Modena magistrate Giuseppe Tibis, accompanied by Surrey police.

The FIA and McLaren have opened a new chapter for 2008, but Scuderia Ferrari has asked Italian magistrates to continue civil investigations, which could take many years. Ron Dennis, the McLaren team principal, and Martin Whitmarsh, the chief operating officer of McLaren Group, last month agreed to travel to Italy to be questioned, together with other senior staff, but the meeting was postponed and instead yesterday's investigations took place at the team's technology centre in Woking and at private homes.

A statement issued by McLaren said: "McLaren Racing has today continued its co-operation with enquiries instigated by the Modena Magistrate. The Surrey Police accompanied Italian investigators to the homes of a number of McLaren executives as part of their ongoing investigation. A similar process has been performed at the McLaren Technology Centre.

"The police are completely satisfied with the co-operation they have received. These actions are part of a normal judicial process in connection with the ongoing investigation, and are supported by McLaren Racing."

On the track, Jarno Trulli turned pre-season form on its head yesterday with the quickest lap set in the nine days of testing at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya this winter.

On a day of surprises, Lewis Hamilton – who had been quickest the previous two days in his McLaren – had to settle for the 10th fastest time, more than 1.2sec down on Trulli, who blitzed the 4.655km track in 1min 20.801sec. The double world-champion Fernando Alonso completed the most laps on the day, 128, but was 0.653sec adrift of Trulli in seventh place.