Let me just say that I have no way of knowing the totality of the issues involved but as a pure outside view with heavily weighted opinion, I think the entire thing can be pieced together through individual statements.
That being said, Pedro seemed very key in the dissemination of Ferrari data with Coughlan driving the fountain of information. While Coughlan played it down and suggested he barely looked at the data, we now find that is not true. We also find that there were close to 300 SMS text messages between Nigel and Coughlan as well as numerous emails over a period of time suggesting this was not just a simple meeting and hand off of barely-looked-at technical data. Even going as far as revealing race strategy, which is reprehensible, and brake details.
Alonso seemed to question the validity of the information but when told of its origin, he would ask questions, probably like most us, on how they could equal Ferrariâ€™s program or could they benefit from similar design, procedures etc. AS for the blackmail piece? I havenâ€™t read anything definitive yet.
Martin knew about the documents and while Ron claims he didnâ€™t, this is the CEO of McLaren folks. He knew about them and told Coughlan to go back to his boss with the info. HUGE mistake from someone in the CEO post.
All this information is an additive to the FIAâ€™s position that Ron, knowingly or not, lied to them regarding how much the team knew and how much info was used or bantered about in the team. Folks, it may happen all over but the FIA has placed a huge target by this enormous penalty that this type of thing in F1 is not going to be tolerated. McLaren was used as an example of what will happen should anyone get caught doing something like this again. The penalty is so large as it would effectively put smaller teams out of business.
Ron may say that none of the technical data was used to engineer their car but thatâ€™s a very weak argument especially when you knew when Ferrari was stopping for fuel and tires or how their bias was set up or their tire preservation techniques. Wind tunnel duplicate testing to see if Ferrariâ€™s calculations were correct and if it would benefit McLaren is no small matter.
There are many McLaren sycophants out there who blame Ferrari for all of this and use moral equivelancy and a reson that McLaren should not have been penalized because Ferrari â€œcheat all the timeâ€. Folks, reality does not have a well-known Ferrari bias. The reality is, McLaren were way out of line, took advantage of the Ferrari technical data (irrespective if it was not an engineered piece of the car) and lied to the FIA. Any one of those things could land you in hot water; all three equal disqualification and $100M.
I have said from the beginning that how Ron handles this situation is more critical than the espionage itself. I have stated that the FIA and McLAren should have negotiated a 20-30 point deduction of WCC points and a fine of several million at the first hearing. This would have placed the WCC out of their reach, effectively, and sent a message. Ferrari would not have liked it but the FIA could stand firm and assure everyone that justice was served. But Ron wouldnâ€™t leave it at that because apparently his ego got in the way of humility. He was trumpeting whistle blowers as heroes and slamming anyone who would question his integrity. He made outlandish claims that his car was open for full tear-down and review and that no one in McLaren, except Coughlan, knew anything about any Ferrari documents. In short, he was being disingenuous whether he knew it or not. Guess what Ron? I am starting to question your integrity. You failed to heed my PR crisis advice and you paid the price. ;) I wasnâ€™t even charging for my advice either.
My New Advice going forward: All being said F1 needs to quickly move on and Ron should not appeal the case. Stop trying to clear your name Ron, because you are only trying to justify something that is truly breaking the rules. Stop it. Take the hit, find humility, have a public luncheon with Ferrari and apologize for all that has happened, renew your agreement publicly with Ferrari that these two great teams will not let something like this come between them or tarnish the FIA, FOM or the grand sport of F1 again. Thatâ€™s if you want to save your fan base and sponsors. Otherwise, donâ€™t listen to me; just keep pushing that water uphill at your own risk. There are hundreds of employees that are counting on you to weather this storm.
A lesson I learned long ago is that it is more important to do the â€œgoodâ€ thing than it is to do the â€œrightâ€ thing. Rightfully, maybe you feel you are within the law to appeal and become litigious with this but the good thing for all involved is to take the high road; itâ€™s the road less traveled.