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McLaren in espionage scandal again?

Paris, Sunday: Following the Runoff Area‘s exclusive scoop last week about Michael Schumacher’s changing role within the Ferrari team, we now understand that a complaint has been filed against the McLaren-Mercedes team in relation to espionage.

The Woking-based squad have already been found using illicit tactics to steal confidential data from Ferrari, which saw them excluded from the 2007 Constructors’ Championship. Now fresh rumours have emerged concerning the theft of blueprints for Giancarlo Minardi’s legendary espresso machine, which was the talk of the paddock when Minardi had a presence in Formula One.

Minardis espresso machine

Stolen: Minardi's espresso machine

These days Giancarlo’s team are present in Italian Formula 3000 rather than F1, but Ferrari apparently approached Minardi with a view to buying the rights to the machine, to make Schumacher’s new job of making coffee for the team much easier. When the Italian went to dig out the designs for the coffee maker, he found that they were missing – and a matter of days later, a McLaren employee was spotted drinking a beverage that looked “suspiciously like” Minardi’s famous espresso.

The highest ranks of McLaren have denied having anything to do with the theft, with chief executive Martin Whitmarsh saying that “As we understand it, an employee of our team was given those designs by a friend. We haven’t even seen them before. What’s this on my desk? Just a cup of regular coffee. Look, I don’t have time for this. Security!”

The World Motor Sport Council confirmed it had received a complaint, and was investigating whether it had any power to act over the situation.

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