Zurich Gnome

The journal of a Swiss-based motor-racing enthusiast.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Crime Doesn't Pay

After yesterday's refreshing news that Peter Sauber has been recognised as a decent and honest businessman, comes the announcement that a couple of fairly big names in the F1 world are about to be prosecuted in Germany. The two men concerned are Ove Andersson and Gustav Brunner, both formerly of Toyota.

Brunner has recently signed to work for Scuderia Toro Rossa (Nèe Minardi, where he used to work after leaving Ferrari) so I guess management there won't be too happy, and may decide to make changes in the design team. That's a shame because I believe he's a talented engineer and would work well with Adrian Newey.

Andersson; however, was formerly Team Principal at Toyota and is now retired. Toyota Motorsports GmbH was actually formed from Andersson's own Motorsport venture in the early 90s so the links there are pretty solid. Andersson was in charge when Toyota was excluded from the 1994 World Rally Championship for cheating, so he's no stranger to being investigated, but he is generally considered to be a decent and honest chap.

The charges this time relate to the use of a data analysis programme developed by Ferrari, and this is clearly an area where a team can make great inroads in the development process, and potentially make its cars significantly more efficient. It's a fine line that anyone treads when they change companies. You can't forget what you've learned, but on the other hand you can't take a finished product with you. Not even one that fits nicely in a CD case. Surprisingly, no charges have been made against the Ferrari employees that moved to Toyota, just against those that are alleged to have used (or authorised the use of) the software.

As the Toyota press machine has pointed out, the charges are against individuals, not the company, but when mud is being thrown, some will stick in the wrong place. The timing also seems a little cruel, with the announcement coming in the same week as the launch of Toyota's new F1 challenger.

The next stage is for the German courts to decide if there is a case to answer, and it could well be that it all comes to nought. For the sake of F1 I hope so. That said, it might just be time to purchase a copy of Cheating by Tom Jensen, which is one of the best books to cover the topic of "rule-interpretation" in recent years. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.


At 2:54 PM, Blogger Conor said...

Italian prosecutors charged the ex-Ferrari employees a while back.

At 3:49 PM, Blogger ZurichGnome said...

You're right, I forgot that! Mr Santini et al...


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