'I was squeezed' by Ferrari - Stepney
(GMM) Nigel Stepney, the sacked Ferrari veteran at the centre of F1's espionage scandal, has denied allegations that he passed reams of confidential team data to a colleague at McLaren.
"I have no idea how Mike Coughlan got the documents and I have no idea what exactly he is supposed to have," the Briton is quoted as saying by The Guardian.
Stepney, a central figure throughout Ferrari's era of dominance with Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn, is also accused of trying to sabotage Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen's cars this year after being demoted.
As the scandal was about to break, he claims he had to flee Italy with his girlfriend Ash and their one-year-old child.
"There have been high-speed car chases," Stepney revealed. "Ash has been stalked at the house. There was tracking gear on my car. Someone was going to get hurt."
He said his relationship with Ferrari began to "break down" following the departure of Brawn at the end of 2006.
"I began to feel like I was some sort of traitor, just because I no longer wanted to travel," Stepney said.
"I was put in a position where it was difficult to do my job. I started to look at other teams, and approached (Honda's) Nick Fry."
Stepney admits meeting up with Coughlan before the pair met with Fry at Heathrow airport, and says up to four fellow Ferrari employees were also keen to form a "technical group" to take to another team.
But echoing his lawyer's claim that a 'dirty tricks' campaign is in motion to spoil his reputation and move to another team, he adds: "I have no idea how anything came into Mike's possession. Categorically, he didn't get them from me.
"As soon as I went against the system at Ferrari, I got squeezed. If you go against it, it's like going against the Vatican."