Stepney, Coughlan restrictions lifted

The FIA has lifted the restrictions imposed on Nigel Stepney and Mike Coughlan following the 2007 espionage case, president Max Mosley has revealed

Stepney, Coughlan restrictions lifted

Although the governing body could not impose formal punishment against the pair over their involvement in the 2007 spy case between McLaren and Ferrari, it did recommend to its licence holders that they should be wary of working with either of them until July 2009.

Mosley has said now, however, that following a request from the lawyers of one of the two men that it would lift any restrictions.

"The other day we got a letter from the lawyers of one of them saying he has got this restriction and this restriction, and it does seem a little bit mad to make them serve out even longer when the two teams concerned are all making love to each other," Mosley explained. "So, we have said we will let them forget it.

"In the end they were just very minor players. If the full story came out, they are two minor players and there are people who are not minor players. But the full story will probably never come out."

McLaren were fined $100 million and excluded from the 2007 constructors' championship over the affair, while both Stepney and Coughlan were fired from their respective teams.

Mosley insisted the penalty McLaren got was modest compared to what could have been.

"Why they got fined a lot is that because to begin with they said that nobody knew, and it was just him (Coughlan)," Mosley added. "Then it came out that more people in the company were involved than they had admitted, and although the fine sounds huge the real penalty was exclusion from the championship.

"That would have been the logical penalty, and a penalty that no one would have disputed amongst the public. You have got all the technical information from one of the other teams unlawfully - so you are out of the championship. If we had done that, it would have cost McLaren far more than $100 million, it might even have put them out of business.

"The reality was actually what they got was relatively modest. It is just that people can understand $100 million is a lot of money, they don't understand the consequences for a team like McLaren if they had been excluded from the championship.

"I have to say, not because I am anti-McLaren but from a purely legal point, I would have excluded them - but the majority of the world council preferred the fine."

Stepney returned to work as Director of Race Technologies at on-board camera company Gigawave, now cooperating with the Superleague series.

Coughlan is now working for Ricardo Transmissions, the largest transmission engineering and design consultancy in the UK.

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