The Technology Behind the Formula One Scandal

A British team got secrets about Ferrari's tech tricks by e-mail

5 min read

8 October 2007--In Europe and Asia, Formula One is the undisputed king of motor sports. No other form of motor racing can compete with the glamour, money, and technology that F1 teams draw on. But for much of this racing season, the sport has been engulfed in a spying scandal wherein members of one team allegedly acquired secret details about the technology used by a competitor. That team, the UK-based McLaren, was recently fined an unprecedented US $100 million. As details of the affair have leaked out, fans have been shocked by the confessions and betrayals behind the scandal, which would seem more at home in an airport thriller than a multibillion-dollar sport.

The technical secrets at issue remain just that--secrets. But enough information has emerged from the scandal's investigation to put together a picture of what happened and what McLaren stood to gain.

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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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