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McLaren accelerates away from fines and expulsion

But not in the clear yet

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McLaren has escaped sanction following a hearing which found insufficient evidence that the current Formula One leaders had benefited from leaked Ferrari data.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA), which met at its world motor sport council today, said in a statement that it could yet kick McLaren out of the F1 championship if more evidence came to light.

It said because of the lack of proof surrounding the controversy, which threatened to unseat British McLaren wonder kid Lewis Hamilton and team mate Fernando Alonso from the top of the championship pile, it will "impose no penalty".

However, the team is not fully in the clear.

McLaren's suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan and former Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney both have legal action hanging over their heads in Italy and England.

The FIA said it therefore "reserved the right" to examine the matter further, the result of which could yet lead to excluding the team from this year's F1 championship, as well as 2008's competition.

The so-called F1 spy saga has thrown up a lot of unwanted headlines for the sport, following allegations that McLaren's Coughlan had a stash of high-level technical information from rival F1 team Ferrari. ®

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