FIA president Max Mosley thinks it is likely that McLaren boss Ron Dennis did know the real extent of his team's transgressions in the spying controversy this year, despite stating he knew nothing about it.
Dennis has maintained his position that he was unaware that Ferrari information inside McLaren had manifested itself from chief designer Mike Coughlan. But Mosley is sceptical of those claims.
"One can only say it's extremely improbable that Ron didn't know," Mosley said in an interview with the Guardian. "Every time I speak to him he still assures me that he would never tell a lie, that he never has told a lie and that he hasn't lied to us.
"When you've known somebody for 40 years it's very difficult just to say, 'Well, I don't believe you.' But in the end no hard-nosed lawyer or policeman would believe it for a moment. I'm probably being a bit of a wimp about it."
Mosley reckons had Dennis approached the two FIA hearings held over the matter with the same kind of attitude that the team displayed in their recent letter of apology to the FIA, then he thinks a punishment meted out on them would have been much less severe.
"If, when Ron learnt about it, he had just called Jean Todt [of Ferrari] and said, 'Listen, you've got to know about Stepney,' we'd never even have heard about it," he explained.
"The next opportunity was when they got caught with all the documents, and he should have just come to the world council and said, 'Look, I'm really sorry, a few of my people know about it and I'm going to eradicate it.'
"There would have been a very modest fine and maybe [a deduction of] a few points at the most and it would all have been over.
"As the police say, we went where the evidence took us and we had no choice but to do that. If we'd swept it under the carpet or pretended it wasn't important I think everyone would have lost faith in our ability to regulate the sport."
Mosley has continued to deny that he dislikes Dennis, but does admit to having issues with the McLaren boss' approach to F1.
"I quite like him," he said. "But I do despise - I think that's probably the right word - his attitude to Formula One, when he says, for example, that he's passionate about Formula One. That's not true.
"He's passionate about McLaren finishing first and second in every race, which is his job, but it's not the same thing as being passionate about formula one and it's foolish to pretend that it is."