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Mosley: McLaren penalty too lenient

FIA president Max Mosley believes the decision to hand McLaren a record US$100 million fine for spying could actually be considered as too lenient

Having delivered what is believed to be the biggest fine in sporting history, Mosley said that McLaren's fine had to be put in perspective - and that the team were lucky not to be thrown out of the championship for two years.

"That 100 million dollars is less than the difference between his budget and that of Frank Williams, Renault and several other teams," Mosley told reporters in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock.

"So it is a very minor punishment as such. Half of it roughly will go to the other teams, the other half, if the World Council agree with me, we are going to distribute to our ASN's (National Sporting Authorities) worldwide to bring on our young drivers. Anything less than that will have no effect at all.

"All you are doing is bringing his budget down to the level of some of the other top teams in the paddock. It is absurd to say it is unfair or disproportionate.

"Anybody looking at marketing value, who was presented in April with that 780-pages on running a top team, would have been very happy paying $100 million to have it - never mind the 300 communications that went backwards and forwards.

"It is a very modest penalty indeed, and they are extremely lucky that we didn't quite simply say: you have polluted the championship in 2007, you have probably polluted it in 2008 because we have no way of knowing what information you are using in your 2007 and 2008 cars, so you had better stay out of the championship until 2009 if you are still around, so that way we know it is completely fair.

"We didn't do that, and when history looks back at this maybe that is what we are reproached with. Not with doing too much, but with maybe doing too little."

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone told the BBC on Friday that McLaren were very close to being excluded from the 2007 and 2008 championships and a decision to impose the fine was made at the last minute.

"Someone, I understand, had left the meeting," said Ecclestone about how close the decision was. "And, as usual, people can't stop talking. And had said something to the press.

"Someone came in and said there has been an announcement, that McLaren had been excluded from the championship for two years. So that's how close it was. Obviously the person that had left, thought that's what the result was."

When asked why there had been a change of heart, Ecclestone said: "Well, I think people thought, you know, that excluded for two years was bad news and that would have been, financially for McLaren, around that figure. Actually it would have been more, they would have lost more. So it was brought back to them.

"They would have been wiped out. They would have been worse off."

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