On this day in F1 – 13th December 2007
The curtain finally fell on the Spygate scandal with McLaren’s unreserved apology to the FIA and Ferrari.
In a grovelling letter, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh expressed his team’s “sincere regret” adding it “apologised wholeheartedly” to the FIA for the embarrassment caused. The letter satisfied FIA president Max Mosley, who asked WMSC members, “in light of McLaren’s public apology and undertakings” and “in the interests of the sport, to consider this matter closed”.
McLaren had been fined £50 million and stripped of all constructors’ 2007 points for being in unauthorised possession of confidential Ferrari information.
Who could forget the moment the whole affair become very public? The 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix was a controversial weekend for McLaren; Alonso held Hamilton up in the pit lane during qualifying, denying Hamilton a chance to record a final lap time. TV pictures showed Ron Dennis angrily throwing his headphones down as Alonso pulled out of the pits, and after the session was over he was then shown having a serious conversation with Alonso’s trainer.
On the morning of the race (August 5), Alonso met Ron Dennis in his motorhome and allegedly threatened to send his email exchanges with McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa and Coughlan to the FIA. According to Max Mosley, Ron Dennis informed him of the conversation and told Mosley that the threat was an empty one, “There’s no information, there’s nothing to come out; I can assure you that if there was something, Max, I would have told you.”
This sequence of events makes the fact that Fernando returned to McLaren in 2015 with Ron Dennis in charge even more astounding.