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GP Week : Issue 102
v F1 NEWS >> THE man at the centre of the 2007 Spy Saga has been sentenced to 20 months in prison by Italian courts for his part in the controversy. Nigel Stepney, a former engineer of Ferrari, was accused of passing confidential information to McLaren and of sabotaging both of Ferrari’s cars at the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix, but a plea bargain meant his jail term was reduced to one year and eight months, and a €600 fine. “ We are satisfied, even if my client has always denied sabotage,” Stepney’s lawyer told Gazzetta di Modena. “ We have to thank the prosecutor for agreeing to a plea bargain. Initially the sentence was much higher.” However, Italy’s legal system means he is unlikely to have to serve time in prison. The story first broke after a worker in a photocopying shop noticed confidential Ferrari documents being copied, before reporting it to the Scuderia who subsequently found that Stepney had passed an extensive Ferrari dossier to McLaren’s chief designer Mike Coughlan. Although McLaren continued to deny that the information had been used in their cars, the FIA fined them $100m and stripped them of all their constructors’ championship points for 2007. McLaren later issued a full apology to the sport after finding that the Ferrari information had indeed been used in their research and development. Stepney cops 20 months ‘suspended’ sentence THE future of this month’s Korean Grand Prix at Yeongam continues to hang in the balance less than three weeks before the race is due to get underway, with the final track inspection not due to take place until this day next week. As we reported last week, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has cast doubt on the race by admitting the race’s prospects were “not good”, but race organisers have moved swiftly to deny any doubt over the race: “ We will have no problem in hosting the race on October 24 as we have almost completed work,” a spokesperson for the race told AFP last week. “ We will rush to complete work and FIA officials will see a complete circuit when they conduct a final inspection in two weeks. We take Ecclestone’s remarks seriously as a message that we have to step up preparations for the race.” Pictures from the track last Wednesday revealed that a temporary crane on the main straight had fallen over, causing minor damage to the main grandstand opposite the pits. This latest incident may prove to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, with the same pictures showing the circuit a fair way from usable just over a week before its inspection deadline. Should the race not go ahead, Formula One teams will find themselves with an unprecedented four-week break between the Japanese and Brazilian Grands Prix, while also reducing the number of races left from four to three. However, should Korea not take place, there are also suggetsions that two races could be run in Abu Dhabi. Korean GP running right to the wire? 12