Renault team principal Flavio Briatore has clarified comments he made to the Italian media on Friday at the Hungaroring regarding the Formula One spy scandal, stating that his words had been inaccurately reported.
Briatore was quoted attacking McLaren and Ron Dennis specifically over the spy scandal, casting doubt on the team's innocence in the affair.
However, speaking exclusively to autosport.com today, Briatore said that he did not state categorically that McLaren should be excluded from the world championship after having been judged to be in unauthorised possession of Ferrari documents.
McLaren were not penalised by the FIA World Motor Sport Council following the hearing last week because there was said to be insufficient evidence that the team had benefited from the data.
Briatore told autosport.com he was confused by the outcome of the hearing: "No, I never said they should be excluded," he explained.
"I said if you call the World Council, you have evidence that there is something wrong. If you don't have evidence, why would you call the World Council?
"If you call the World Council it is because you have the proof that McLaren need punishing. If you call the World Council and you don't have evidence, I don't know why you'd call them."
He also repeated his comparison of the affair to the events last year when Renault's mass damper was banned mid-season.
"It is bad for the sport," he said. "In one month we have talked about this only. For me, it makes no sense, just as the mass damper [affair] made no sense for me."
Speaking to the Italian press yesterday, Briatore did, however, remark on the spying affair and questioned McLaren's involvement.
"When we started developing the car for 2007 we maybe underestimated the big technical impact there would have been with the coming of Bridgestone as sole tyre supplier in place of Michelin," Briatore was quoted as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport.
"For me it was unquestionable that Ferrari, after many years with Bridgestone, would have had an advantage.
"But had I only known Ferrari's weight distribution, or how big their tank is, if I had a bit of those documents, then we surely wouldn't be in this situation today. We would certainly have gained in performance.
"When everything is played within one tenth of a second, any information on your rivals, even if partial, is important.
"If he (Ron Dennis) knew there were those papers around, he should have informed Jean Todt about it immediately. And the federation.
"Dennis says he's immaculate, but it's hard to believe him. No, I don't believe in his good faith. In a team everyone knows everything. Especially if the dossier - let's call it that - in question is at that level."
Briatore also said he hoped the main suspects in the affair - ex-Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney and McLaren's suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan - would be banned from Formula One, to set an example for the future.
"All the team managers should say that in F1 there's no more room for them (Coughlan and Stepney)," Briatore said. "And it's an extremely serious thing that Coughlan hasn't yet been fired by McLaren.
"We must clean up by punishing certain people. So that what happened won't happen again. So that a mechanic, before passing on certain information to a rival, will think about it 27 times."