Stepney refuses to take blame for F1 spy saga | india | Hindustan Times
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Stepney refuses to take blame for F1 spy saga

india Updated: Jan 21, 2008 19:51 IST
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Nigel Stepney, the former Ferrari engineer at the heart of last year's Formula One spying controversy, has said he takes no blame for what happened to McLaren.

The Mercedes-powered team were fined $100 million and stripped of all their 2007 constructors' points for having Ferrari information, leaked by Stepney to McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan.

Stepney, who remains the subject of a criminal investigation in Italy, was dismissed by Ferrari while McLaren suspended Coughlan.

"I don't feel responsible in any way at all for what happened at McLaren," Stepney told Sky Sports' World Motorsports programme in excerpts made available before being broadcast later on Monday.

"My original (plan), or my ideas were to make contact with somebody but not to benefit, it was to talk about and see what I could do somewhere else with a group of people," he added.

Stepney, who had approached Honda with former colleague Coughlan to enquire about job opportunities, said he had intended to leave Ferrari and put a group of people together to work elsewhere.

He claimed he never expected any information to be used by McLaren.

"Obviously it got a bit sensitive and somebody used information more than I actually thought it was, or not more than it should have been, it should never have been used in that, to that extreme," he said.

Formula One's governing body, the International Automobile Federation, last month drew a line under the spy saga after McLaren recognised that the data had penetrated deeper into the team than had been thought.

However, despite the FIA raising doubts, the team have denied incorporating any of the Ferrari data into either last year's car or this year's.

The FIA also said in July that Stepney and Coughlan would both be invited "to show reason why they should not be banned from international motor sport for a lengthy period."

Stepney told Sky that he was thinking about getting out anyway and did not expect to be back in Formula One in the medium term.

"I don't think so. I think I've got a lot of other more interesting opportunities and going back into...the grass roots of motor racing," he said.

"Formula One I've worked in for many years, I've enjoyed it, I've made a living out of it, it's been a very good experience in life but I think I've got, prefer to go into a sort of a grass roots racing again."