MARUSSIA have written to the FIA urging them to look vigorously into the latest case of alleged espionage to rock Formula One.
A long-running legal dispute involving Force India, Caterham and Aerolab (an aerodynamic development company), finally came to a head on Wednesday in the High Court. With regards to the theft of intellectual property, all parties effectively claimed victory, although in being awarded a paltry sum of just 25,000 euros (£20,800) Force India are known to be aggrieved.
The premise of the case is that Aerolab, having worked with Force India up to 2009, switched to Caterham - then known as Lotus Racing - shortly after. The claim was that Aerolab copied significant parts of Force India’s design when designing the Lotus T127,.
Mr Justice Arnold ruled Force India had “come nowhere near” to proving their case, primarily ruling in Aerolab’s favour over unpaid fees, amounting to 850,000 euros (£710,000). However, there is a salient clause in the 122-page summing up of Mr Justice Arnold upon which Force India, and Marussia, who started off life in Dinnington, believe the FIA should act.
Paragraph 373 reads: “In my judgment the Aerolab/FondTech CAD (computer-aided design) files do reproduce a substantial part of the corresponding Force India CAD files for the following parts: the vortex generator, rear brake duct lower element and rear view mirror.”
Force India and Marussia believe this is a basic infringement of the FIA’s Sporting Code, pertinently Article 151c which refers to ‘any fraudulent conduct or act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally’.
It was the same Article upon which McLaren were charged in the ‘spygate’ saga of 2007 when they were found guilty by the World Motor Sport Council of being in unauthorised possession of documents and confidential information belonging to Ferrari.
It resulted in McLaren being fined what remains a world sporting record of 100million US dollars (at the time £49.2m).
As for Marussia’s involvement, the belief is if the FIA act and in turn find Caterham guilty, Tony Fernandes’ team could have their race results expunged from the record books. In turn, Caterham would lose their 10th place in the constructors’ championship that year, the last of the positions allowed to make money from the standings. If the FIA were to re-write the race results, Marussia - known as Virgin Racing in 2010 - would acquire 10th place, albeit that is a long shot.C