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On this day in 2007: Spygate scandal rocks Formula 1

On this day in 2007: Spygate scandal rocks Formula 1
© Reuters
Confidential technical information was passed between the McLaren, Ferrari and Renault F1 teams.

Spygate was arguably the biggest scandal in Formula One history and came to a head with a FIA hearing on September 13, 2007.

The case involved a set of accusations that confidential technical information had been passed between the McLaren, Ferrari and Renault F1 teams.

Ferrari allegations made against a former employee Nigel Stepney, a senior McLaren engineer Mike Coughlan and his wife Trudy Coughlan were the subject of legal action in Italy and a FIA investigation.

A FIA hearing took place on July 26, 2007 but did not result in any penalty for McLaren.

Formula One – Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 Launch – Valencia
McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were involved in controversy during the 2007 Formula One season (David Davies/PA)

But the story exploded again after the Hungarian Grand Prix at the start of August.

Fernando Alonso, who was two points behind McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the world championship standings, took pole after holding up the British driver in the pits so he could not get out for a final qualifying lap.

The following morning, before the race, Alonso and McLaren team boss Ron Dennis had a huge row. Alonso threatened to reveal potentially incriminating emails to do with the Spygate case.

Dennis phoned FIA president Max Mosley to tell him what Alonso had said and the wheels were put in motion for a hearing that would rock the sport.

The second hearing re-analysed the claim that McLaren had benefited from secret Ferrari technical information to obtain a sporting advantage on their rivals.

Motor Racing – Kimi Raikkonen File Photo
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen won the 2007 Formula One world drivers' championship (Rui Vieira/PA)

McLaren were found guilty, fined a record 100 million dollars (£49.2m) and thrown out of the constructors' championship.

However, Alonso and Hamilton's points were not affected and the pair continued to contest the world drivers' championship, which was eventually won by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

Renault were later found guilty of bringing the sport into disrepute by having McLaren intellectual property in their possession, but no penalty was imposed.

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