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Dennis: 'It was a $100m fine or a two-year ban'
Saturday 15th December 2012, 21:55 by TF1T Staff
Ron Dennis has revealed that McLaren would have faced a two-year ban from Formula 1 had he taken the FIA to court over the 'spygate' controversy.
McLaren were found to have confidential Ferrari data in their possession during the 2007 season. Whilst Dennis insists the actions of a single employee were to blame and that no data was ever used in the design of their cars, the governing body passed down the largest ever sporting fine of $100 million.
The McLaren Group chairman says he was prepared to take the case to the civil court as the fine far outweighed the crime, but was warned by two World Motorsport Council members that should he take such action, McLaren would have been banned from competing for two years.
"When I was told the size of the penalty that had been inflicted on McLaren, on the basis of what any court of law would deem to be circumstantial evidence, I felt that my only route was to go to the civil courts," he told MotorSport magazine.
"But then I was privately told by two members of the World Council that if I did that, the punishment would be increased to a two-year ban."
Weighing up the two options, Dennis accepted the fine would cost the company less than not competing given, at the time, F1 was their only business.
"So against the loss of $100,000,000 I had to set the loss of all revenues for the entire team for two years, a far greater sum, and I had to take a pragmatic decision."
Many within the paddock, including Dennis himself, believe the penalty was down to Max Mosley's dislike of Dennis, something the former FIA president reportedly admitted in Tom Bower’s book, The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone.
"$5 million for the offence, and $95 million for Ron being a twat," was Mosley's quote.
Furthermore, supporting the theory, Renault were caught with significant amounts of McLaren data just months later - though the investigation into the matter played down the true amount of data, leading to nothing more than a slapping of the wrists - something which angered Dennis even more.
"That was a draining from our computers of our technology onto the servers of a rival team. Yet nothing happened," he concluded on the subject.