[ISN] Stepney leaves Ferrari, McLaren suspends employee

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Tue Jul 03 2007 - 22:33:22 PDT


By Nikki Reynolds 

Ferrari employee Nigel Stepney, whom the team recently instigated legal 
proceedings against, has left the Maranello squad. Ferrari never 
specified exactly what the complaint was but it seems Stepney has been 
dismissed after an internal disciplinary hearing, although he still 
faces court action in Italy.

There have been several theories in regard to the situation, including 
speculation about industrial espionage and sabotage, mostly circulating 
around unconfirmed allegations of a mysterious 'white powder' found in 
or around Ferrari fuel tanks prior to Monaco.

Stepney, who has been linked with a move to Honda, quickly refuted any 
wrongdoing once the charges were made and has maintained that he will be 
cleared. He is currently still on holiday and is expected back in Italy 
in the near future, when it's likely he will hold a press conference.

As if all that wasn't curious enough, McLaren today released a statement 
saying it has suspended an unnamed technical employee due to a Ferrari 
investigation. It was not confirmed at the time that it was related to 
the Stepney case but espionage was once again the theme.

"McLaren became aware on the 3rd July 2007 that a senior member of its 
technical organisation was the subject of a Ferrari investigation 
regarding the receipt of technical information," the statement read. 
"The team has learnt that this individual had personally received a 
package of technical information from a Ferrari employee at the end of 

"Whilst McLaren has no involvement in the matter and condemns such 
actions it will fully co-operate with any investigation. The individual 
has in the meanwhile been suspended by the company pending a full and 
proper investigation of the matter. No further comment will be made."

Since McLaren made the statement, Ferrari also confirmed its actions and 
the link between the two. "Ferrari announces it has recently presented a 
case against Nigel Stepney and an engineer from the Vodafone 
McLaren-Mercedes team with the Modena Tribunal, concerning the theft of 
technical information," the Scuderia stated.

"Furthermore, legal action has been instigated in England and a search 
warrant has been issued concerning the engineer. This produced a 
positive outcome. Ferrari reserves the right to consider all 
implications, be they criminal, civil or of any other nature, according 
to the applicable laws."

Neither McLaren nor Ferrari have named the engineer in question but 
allegedly documents belonging to Ferrari were found at his house during 
a police search today. McLaren designer Mike Coughlan is rumoured to be 
the accused but for the moment that has not been confirmed.

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