Source AP ©

Former Ferrari technician says he was set up in secrets case

The former Ferrari mechanic accused of providing the team's design secrets to Formula One rival McLaren says he was the victim of a set-up.

"Someone gave away the designs but it wasn't me. Someone set me up and that person is still within Ferrari," Nigel Stepney said in an interview in Tuesday's editions of Italian daily La Repubblica.

In April, Stepney allegedly sent a 780-page technical dossier on Ferrari cars to McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan.

Stepney has denied it, although Ferrari won a court order to search Coughlan's home and the documents were found. Stepney was fired by Ferrari and Coughlan suspended by McLaren.

Stepney is also facing criminal charges filed by Ferrari against him in a Modena court for attempted sabotage before theMonaco Grand Prix.

A mysterious white powder was found on the gas tanks of Ferrari's cars on May 21, six days before the Monaco race, and traces of the powder have reportedly been found in a pair of Stepney's trousers.

"I didn't put it there," Stepney told La Repubblica. "They put the powder in my pants pocket while I was taking a shower."

Last week, motorsport's world governing body - FIA - ruled that McLaren did have sensitive Ferrari documents, but there was insufficient evidence that the data was misused and no punishment was handed out.

Stepney has indicated he was disappointed that he was not promoted to technical director when Ross Brawn left the team after last season. Stepney criticized Ferrari and the team responded by not sending him to races anymore at the beginning of this season.

Stepney told Repubblica that once he realized he was falling out of favor at Ferrari, he discovered some other disgruntled Ferrari employees and a few members of other teams who were thinking about forming a breakaway team.

"It would have been led by friend Ross Brawn," Stepney said.

Stepney also said he has already found a new job outside Italy and Formula One. He did not specify what it was.

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