Relief for McLaren as FIA draws a line under spy scandal

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The Independent Online

The McLaren team can at least enjoy a measure of peace over the festive season after Formula One's governing body, the FIA, confirmed as expected yesterday that it has cancelled a meeting on 14 February to investigate the design of their 2008 challenger.

The decision came just five days after the Woking-based-team issued a public apology for their role in the "Stepneygate" spy saga.

McLaren were found to be in unauthorised possession of technical information belonging to Ferrari at a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in July, but like Renault at the beginning of December, were let off without penalty. When the WMSC hearing was reconvened in September, following further investigation by the FIA, the team was fined 50m, stripped of their points in the 2007 constructors' championship (which they were leading) and warned that their 2008 car would be vetted to make sure it was effectively free of Ferrari influence.

Facing the possibility of starting the 2008 championship with a negative points score if the investigation went against them, McLaren last week offered to put a freeze on developments that could be deemed to have been derived from Ferrari data.

Ferrari have confirmed that they intend to pursue Mike Coughlan, McLaren's disgraced chief designer, and Nigel Stepney, their own former head of performance development, through the British and Italian courts.