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F1 Soap Opera Gets Even Uglier - F1 shake-up

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Formula 1's governing body has stirred up a hornet's nest with its handling of two incidents of corporate technical espionage. Now the FIA has pledged to press libel charges against a prominent motorsports journalist who alluded to the group's actions as a "witch hunt."

Martin Brundle, a former Grand Prix driver, wrote in September in the Sunday Times of London that the treatment of British team McLaren "has all the feel of a witch hunt, driven by the very people who have a primary responsibility to the sport."

The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) on Saturday asserted that it will sue Brundle for defamation.

That word came in the aftermath of a hectic week in which McLaren and Renault came under scrutiny. Renault, facing its first action before the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) on charges that it had stolen technical data from McLaren, was found to be guilty of violating the FIA sporting code, but no punishment was meted out.

McLaren received similar treatment when it first appeared before the WMSC on charges of being in possession of technical data from Ferrari, but later, the FIA determined that McLaren had benefited from the information. For punishment, the body levied a 0 million fine and excluded McLaren from the 2007 constructor's championship.

Further, on Friday, the FIA announced that the 2008 McLaren racing car had not been approved for competition because of suspicion that its design incorporated elements of the Ferrari data. Officials postponed validation of the car until February 14, only a month before the season is scheduled to begin in Australia, leaving McLaren in limbo.


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