FIA Lift Restrictions on Stepney and Coughlan Starting today, Nigel Stepney and Mike Coughlan are allowed to work within the Formula 1 paddock. The two men that started the entire espionage scandal between Ferrari and McLaren back in 2007 – also known as the “Stepneygate” – were cleared by FIA president Max Mosley following a request made out by one of their attorneys to lift any restrictions on their right to work in F1.
Mosley argued his decision by the fact that Ferrari and McLaren have already moved on with their racing programs and are starting to even get along well inside the F1 paddock, so it is unnecessary for the two men to keep paying for their mistakes in the past. “The other day we got a letter from the lawyers of one of them saying he has got this restriction and this restriction, and it does seem a little bit mad to make them serve out even longer when the two teams concerned are all making love to each other. So, we have said we will let them forget it,” revealed Mosley.
“In the end they were just very minor players. If the full story came out, they are two minor players and there are people who are not minor players. But the full story will probably never come out,” added the FIA boss.
The Englishman also argued that McLaren should have been penalized much harsher for their mistakes in the Stepneygate and that the Woking-based team should be very happy they only got away with a $100 million fine.
“Why they got fined a lot is that because to begin with they said that nobody knew, and it was just him (Coughlan). Then it came out that more people in the company were involved than they had admitted, and although the fine sounds huge the real penalty was exclusion from the championship.
“The reality was actually what they got was relatively modest. It is just that people can understand $100 million is a lot of money, they don't understand the consequences for a team like McLaren if they had been excluded from the championship. I have to say, not because I am anti-McLaren but from a purely legal point, I would have excluded them - but the majority of the world council preferred the fine,” concluded McLaren.
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