Ecclestone hopes for end to spying "nonsense"
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is hoping for a speedy, satisfactory end to the 'spy scandal' that has hung over the sport for the last month, and (hopefully) comes to an end in Paris today.
Ahead of an extraordinary meeting on the World Motor Sport Council, which has been brought about as a result of Ferrari documentation found in possession of McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, Ecclestone admits to hoping that there is no substance to the charge that the Woking team breached Article 151c of the International Sporting Code
If the WMSC finds that the Woking team benefited from the documentation in Coughlan's possession, there is the possibility that it could be thrown out of the championship. Such a move would be disastrous for the sport at a time when the championship features a four-way fight for the title and rookie Lewis Hamilton is attracting the attention of the mainstream media and new fans.
"I don't think anyone's going to make a decision on the world championship without really looking into everything," Ecclestone told The Times. "Please God, nothing's gone wrong and it will all be a lot of nonsense. It would be better it didn't happen in the first place and it would be obviously beneficial if it was cleared up and everybody was sort of happy."
Ecclestone admits that in recent weeks the saga has overshadowed events on-track
"There's been so much talked about this spying nonsense, it's even taking away from what's going on on the track," he said. "I don't like it."
Although there is absolutely no doubt that Coughlan had the documentation in his possession, McLaren insists that it was not aware of the fact, far less had access to it.
However, other than having to prove that information in the documentation was not used in the design of the Woking team's 2007 contender - which had already been built and launched by the time the documents came into his possession - there is uncertainty as to whether the documentation alerted the team to the 'moving floor' on the Ferrari F2007.
Furthermore, according to the rules of the International Sporting Code, McLaren is responsible for all its team members, therefore any wrongdoing by Coughlan is effectively the responsibility of the entire team.
Ecclestone admits to be unclear about this: "I don't know how that could be interpreted," he admits. "Until all the evidence has been raked through, no decision is going to be made about anything.
"It's like anything. They have been asked to come and say their party piece and until we have heard exactly what's what, it's impossible for anyone to make any decisions or even speculate."
Although most within the industry are absolutely convinced that McLaren, certainly under Ron Dennis, would never cheat, there is concern at certain aspects of the timescale of events, particularly with regard the Woking team's approach to the FIA regarding the moving floor.
Any punishment affecting the World Championship(s) could prove catastrophic for the sport, a fact not lost on Ecclestone.
However, we find his call for calm and dismissal of the saga as nonsense highly ironic, given that less than two months ago he was calling for McLaren to be punished severely when it was claimed the Woking team had used team orders at Monaco and fixed the race result. A 'crime' that pales into utter insignificance when compared to the charges the team faces today.
"If there were orders, they would be getting off lightly if they get the same sort of fine as Ferrari," he said at the time, referring to the fine the Italian team incurred as a result of the fiasco at the 2002 Austrian GP. "They could be excluded from the championship or they could have points deducted. A fine for McLaren, with its money, would not have the same effect as docking points."