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GP Week : Issue 146
components. By the time Aerolab had handed over their CAD files to 1MUK, only the vortex generator, rear brake duct lower element and rear-view mirrors had remained largely unchanged, meaning 1MUK was only liable for copyright infringement on these components, and not the longer list of elements. Simply having possession of a rival’s confidential data is enough to constitute a breach of the Concorde Agreement, the same rule under which McLaren were fined $100m and stripped of their points in 2007. 1MUK’s infringement through the actions of Aerolab are therefore arguably more serious, as they used Force India’s data as a baseline to the T127. “What 1MUK have done is to be able to get a complete aero map as a starting point,” explained Fernley. “It had probably taken us a year or 14 months to that point of constant reiterations.” As a new team entering Formula One, having access to track-verified data, despite the various regulation changes that took place that year, gave 1MUK a definite performance and time-saving advantage. The case has raised the interest of 1MUK’s main rivals from 2010 and 2011, Marussia, who say they have opened a dialogue with the FIA. 1MUK’s guilt of copyright infringement is evidence enough to initiate an investigation, as it proves their breaking of some of the most fundamental rules of the sport. “The rules that we all as teams operate under are very strict and very clear in terms of what we have to do as a constructor,” said Graeme Lowdon, Sporting Director of the Marussia F1 Team. “There are certain parts of the car that you have to design yourself and you have to own the IP to that. “Unless I'm mistaken, the contents of part of this judgement suggest that there has been copyright infringement and if that's the case it needs to be looked at and it needs to be looked at seriously because it's really fundamental to the integrity of the sport.” It is paragraph 373 of the 122-page ruling that details 1MUK’s copyright infringement. The paragraph states: “In my judgment the Aerolab/FondTech CAD 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. It follows that the copyright claim [against 1MUK] succeeds to that extent, but not other wise.” Similar cases of copyright infringement and the use of a rival’s confidential information hit the headlines in 2007 when McLaren and Renault were brought before the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council to answer the serious charges. McLaren, despite claiming to never have used the data that was stolen from Ferrari, had their results from 2007 stripped and were fined $100m, while Renault escaped without sanction having proven that the confidential McLaren data had not been used. With Aerolab having admitted to using the confidential Force India information however, precedent suggests that 1MUK’s results from 2010 (when they raced as Lotus Racing) will be annulled, costing the team tenth place in that year’s world championship. More importantly however the team would lose its status as a Column 1 team (achieved by finishing as a top ten constructor two out of three years), for which it will receive an estimated cash injection of over $30m from Bernie Ecclestone for each of the next two years. The team would also lose an additional bonus of over $2m for finishing 10th in the championship and becoming a Column 2 team for that year. If the FIA decides to annul 1MUK’s results from 2010, depending on how that is done Marussia could be promoted to 10th place in the championship that season, giving them the opportunity to become a Column 1 team at the end of this season. Lowdon insists there is more at stake than money however. “There's potentially an awful lot of money at stake, but it goes beyond that,” Lowdon continued. “There's the reputation of a team, and all sorts of things. These rules are there to make sure we're all competing on the same basis.” At a more extreme level, 1MUK’s results from 2011 and 2012 could also be in question, because their current car may still retain some of the Force India DNA that was used in the initial design of the T127. GPWEEK understands that the FIA will wait until a separate criminal case in the Italian courts concludes before launching their own investigation. Although the case will be investigated from scratch again, the Bologna court has a reputation for conducting swift investigations. GPWEEK made numerous requests for comment from 1MUK / Caterham F1 Team, but all requests were turned down. 34 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> news FeATURe