It’s been a few days since the story first broke, and I have taken the approach of sit back for a while and see how this thing shakes out, but finally I could not help myself and have decided to jump in.
There is much speculation and probably mis-information out there right now about who is doing what in Stepneygate.
The main players are alleged to be Nigel Stepney of Ferrari, Mike Caughlin of McLaren, and then the Ferrari, Mc Laren and Honda teams. The stories that are circulating are that at the center of this are approximately 500-700 pages of Ferrari documents that have been alleged to have been leaked to a senior McLaren person (rumored to be Caughlin, but not 100% confirmed at this time). Honda team boss Nick Fry this week confirmed directly to Ferrari and McLaren that he had met earlier in June with Stepney and Caughlin together, and discussed those two making a move across to Honda, and according to Fry this meeting was not at his request.
Meanwhile it has been confirmed that the English Police are not involved, as it is being treated as a civil matter in England, however the Italian Police are involved, with searches taking place of Stepneys residence in Italy.
As usual with F1, a lot of the facts are pretty clouded, and no-one is exactly who did what, and what the intentions are, or in fact what exactly the documents at the center of this are. The documents described as "Ferrari Documents" could be anything, they could be anything from a collection of menus form the Ferrari catering division, all the way through to design data, windtunnel data, or anything else with a Ferrari logo on it. One thing that does puzzle me a little, is we are talking about some of the most technical people involved in F1, and yet for some reason we have a pile of paper at the center of this. Surely if these guys were to have done this they would have done it electronically, but then again, who knows.
One theory also circulating right now is that the documents in question were left at an English copy center, and an employee there noticed the Ferrari logos, and the content, and then alerted Ferrari about the documents. Again, at this time this has not been confirmed by any official sources.
One thing that is very clear is that Honda is not in any way involved with this, they appear to be a completely innocent party, and neither has anyone accused McLaren of using any of these documents, or any other stolen designs/drawings/documents in the building of the 2007 car, and neither should they, as this has only just happened recently, although of course one does have to wonder if this has been going on for a while, or if this is an isolated incident.
I am sure we will hear more of this in the next few days, and I would not be surprised to hear of other teams being implicated in this incident, or perhaps even other incidents that come to light very soon.
Whatever happens it is still pretty amazing that such low tech espienage seems to have gone on amongst some of the most brilliant and most technical people on the planet. Watch this and many other spaces in the next few days.