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Even Turk Thrust couldn't have thought this up

NEWS STORY
12/07/2007

Had the legendary Turk Thrust (right), formerly of the Formula One Script Unit (FOSU), suggested to Mike Lawrence that F1 would become embroiled in a 'spy scandal' involving three teams and which could radically alter the outcome of the 2007 World Championship, the good doctor would have laughed him out of the club and probably advised him to seek medical advice. Yet, this is where F1 stands midway through the season.

Jest over a week ago we had a 'straightforward' tale of sabotage, with Ferrari alleging that its former chief mechanic Nigel Stepney, in an effort to strike back at the team that failed to give him the promotion he craved, set about wrecking his team's hopes at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Then, it became a tale of espionage, with another team being brought into the equation. The fact that the 'other team' was McLaren - which has enjoyed many years of animosity towards its Italian rivals - merely added to the drama.

In a story that is simply crying out for Bernie Ecclestone to finally let Hollywood into the F1 paddock, we have heard of meetings with a third team (Honda), visits to photocopying shops, appearances in the high court in London, and (secret) sworn affidavits.

Hard to believe but rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton is no longer getting the press coverage he'd enjoyed up until that "disappointing" outing at Silverstone, at least not in the sense he wants.

Now, when Hamilton is mentioned it is in connection with this scandal that has already surely blighted a couple careers, and looks set to destroy several more.

At a time when Ron Dennis should be savouring the fact that his team leads both championships, he is reduced to tears as he finds his team embroiled in a sordid saga through no apparent fault of its own. The news that Mike Coughlan had received vital documents from Nigel Stepney was bad enough, but this week's revelation that McLaren Managing Director Jonathan Neale - the third most important person in the company's hierarchy - was aware that Coughlan had the documents has only added to the total confusion within the paddock and among F1 fans as a whole.

Today, having already announced that it had initiated an investigation into the saga, The FIA summoned McLaren to Paris on July 26 to answer "a charge" that the team has breached Article 151c of the International Sporting Code.

What began just over two weeks ago as a tale of sabotage, with talk of white powder in the Monaco paddock - not for the first time! - has now exploded into a sorry saga that could see a team face draconian punishment. And no matter what has been said previously, if that team has benefited from having Ferrari's documents, so has its drivers.

There are sure to be more revelations in the days to come, and attention is sure to focus on the timescale of events, which in some cases simply doesn't ring true.

Hopefully, in time we will learn the truth, and unlike some previous scandals in F1 it will not be brushed under the carpet. Then again, we hope that there are no hidden agendas, after all it is no secret that Ron Dennis has not enjoyed the easiest of relationships with (FIA President) Max Mosley.

When we last spoke to Mike Lawrence - who due to recent events in the UK prefers not to be recognized as 'Doctor' at present - he said he had not yet spoken to Turk Thrust about the ongoing saga.

However, we have a feeling that when Turk does break cover, he will be pointing to the fact that there are others who would have far more to gain from all those documents than McLaren and that perhaps we're all looking in the wrong direction.

What does Turk think, is he involved?

We should be told.

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