Pedro de la Rosa feels Fernando Alonso was unfairly blamed after his alleged role in the ‘Spygate’ scandal which led to McLaren being punished with a hefty $100m fine and exclusion from the 2007 World Championship.
There was an accusation levelled at Alonso in that he was responsible for the leak which made the world aware that McLaren had obtained secret dossiers that included intricate details about rivals Ferrari and their car.
De La Rosa, McLaren’s reserve driver at the time, has revisited the scandal and thinks Alonso is wrongly seen as the man who damaged McLaren.
“That situation was like a divorce inside the team,” De la Rosa told the official F1 podcast, Beyond the Grid.
“The relationship was not good before, but that was like the complete divorce.
“The fact the FIA knew about it raised many questions over who had passed this information to the FIA.
“And everyone seemed to blame Fernando for something that we didn’t know and we have zero evidence that he did.
“But the FIA knew, it could be from Ferrari, it could be from any anyone because there was many people in the team that knew about the weight distribution of Ferrari or whatever.
“So it was unfair in the way that Fernando was blamed for something that I don’t think he did. So it was the divorce point, because he was looked at someone that had damaged McLaren.”
De La Rosa added that the whole saga still gives sleepless nights and insisted that any information obtained did not influence McLaren’s development path.
“Still I wake up some nights with a cold sweat because I still don’t understand why we were fined 100 million,” he added.
“There was this theory that we were engineering a copy department of Ferrari or that we were engineering a way into Ferrari or trying to get information from Ferrari. There was nothing of that.
“We were a racing team that as with any other competitor, we tried to find information from them, which everyone does in Formula 1.
“The information we had about Ferrari was the typical information you share at a coffee machine, just speaking with engineers: Do you know what weight distribution Ferrari has, these type of questions that obviously someone in the team had the information because of a friendship at Ferrari and we shared this information.
“Did we change anything of our development, of our testing program? Nothing. Nothing changed. We didn’t use that information.”