Latest F1 news in brief

  • Spy scandal brings tears to Dennis' eyes
  • Whole world stunned by Hamilton phenomenon
  • F1 veteran backs McLaren amid spy saga
  • Bernie rules out London grand prix
  • Stepney interrogated by Italian police

Spy scandal brings tears to Dennis' eyes
(GMM) The Ferrari-McLaren spy scandal threatened to overshadow Lewis Hamilton's first home grand prix as the world of formula one converged on Silverstone on Thursday.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis wiped away tears on the steps of the team's monstrous new 'Brand Centre' motorhome as rumors swilled that another of his employees might be caught up in the alleged transfer of material from Ferrari's sacked Nigel Stepney to McLaren's suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan.

It is rumored that Stepney handed over a confidential 500-page dossier to Coughlan around the time of a test in Spain in May. A staff member at a commercial printing shop apparently then tipped-off Ferrari when Coughlan tried to copy the team secrets, which were marked by a 'confidential' stamp featuring a Prancing Horse.

"It has been a difficult two or three days, especially for me," the emotional Dennis, with a wavering voice, said.

"My personal integrity is very important to me and my company's integrity is even more important.

"There is no way anything incorrect would ever happen in our team. Thanks," he finished.

La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that a second McLaren employee is now under suspicion, following another search on the dwelling of Stepney, who returned to Italy on Thursday.

Whole world stunned by Hamilton phenomenon
(GMM) England is reveling in its new hero, but the Lewis Hamilton phenomenon is leaving the rest of the world even more stunned.

A reporter for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo called arriving at Silverstone on Thursday like being hit by the 'Hamilton tsunami', and the Daily Mirror's headline 'Genius of a Lifetime' summed up the mood on the London newsstands.

At the circuit, tempers flared during a media scrum around the rookie championship leader, with a couple of cameramen nearly coming to blows as they jostled for a good view of the dazzled Briton.

Mercedes' Norbert Haug said in the German specialist publication Auto Motor und Sport: "The English are soaking it up like sponges because for years they have not had a proper star."

Outside of the close-knit English-speaking press, meanwhile, the global F1 media continue to pay attention to the still icy relations between Hamilton and his McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso.

After dozens of photographers caught the moment, for example, much was made of when Alonso refused to make eye-contact while shaking Lewis' hand as they brushed past one another in the Silverstone paddock.

Germany's Bild said the silver-clad pair were in the midst of an "ice-age", while El Mundo referred to their greeting as "courteous, but cold".

F1 veteran backs McLaren amid spy saga
(GMM) One of F1's most experienced engineers has backed McLaren by doubting that the allegedly stolen material from Ferrari is now being used by the Woking team.

Team boss Ron Dennis wiped tears from the corners of his eyes on Thursday as he defended the integrity of his Mercedes-powered, after chief designer Mike Coughlan was suspended for suspected industrial espionage involving his former Ferrari colleague Nigel Stepney.

Reports this week suggested that no fewer than 500 pages of secret information had changed hands, covering wide-ranging aspects of Ferrari's team methods as well as technical data.

But Spyker's Mike Gascoyne, who also recently worked for Toyota and Renault as technical director, told the Telegraph: "Look at it in general terms.

"McLaren are a very professional team, very experienced. They have been around for 30 years and they have been winning races very recently.

"The sort of things that these documents are supposed to describe … McLaren will have their own ways of doing them."

Gascoyne said Dennis, renowned for a level of meticulousness that verges on obsessiveness, would have been genuine on Thursday when he delivered the message that if Coughlan is found to have done anything wrong, it won't have found its way onto the MP4-22 single seater, which has won four of the eight races so far in 2007.

Gascoyne said: "Knowing McLaren, and their management, I simply can't see them condoning anything like this.

"To me it makes no sense."

Bernie rules out London grand prix
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has ruled out organizing a grand prix on the streets of London.

F1's chief executive had floated the idea a couple of years ago as an alternative to what he still describes as 'third-rate' Silverstone, which has a contract only until 2009.

Ecclestone's interest in London as a possible venue had gone as far as holding discussions with the British capital's mayor Ken Livingstone, but he now says on the eve of the 2007 race: "It would be too expensive.

"The place would be upside down for six weeks. Nice as it would be, I didn't think it was possible," the 76-year-old is quoted as saying by the BBC

Stepney interrogated by Italian police
(GMM) An 'astonished' Nigel Stepney was interrogated for more than three hours by Italian police upon returning from a holiday in the Philippines on Thursday.

The newspaper 'La Stampa', adding to reports that said the sacked Ferrari employee's house near Maranello was raided for a second time, said the 47-year-old Briton was then interviewed as part of the alleged industrial espionage case.

Stepney's lawyer reportedly said: "Mr. Stepney answered their questions and expressed his astonishment about the accusations against him.

"He will prove his innocence."

Ferrari have clarified, meanwhile, that English police are not yet involved in the case against McLaren's chief designer Mike Coughlan, amid confusion surrounding the Italian team's claim that a 'search warrant' had been issued.

"Ferrari reviewed the evidence and consulted London lawyers towards the end of last week," a statement read.

"Ferrari then made an urgent application to the High Court in London on 2 July for the court's assistance."

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