LONDON, England -- Formula One is bracing itself for another '"spying" controversy after Renault learn they are to face a charge of possessing "confidential information" belonging to McLaren.
Giancarlo Fisichella at the wheel of a Renault during the 2007 season.
McLaren were themselves handed an unprecedented $100 million fine in September after being found guilty on a similar charge of obtaining information from Ferrari.
They were also stripped of all the points they had won towards the 2007 constructors' championship.
Renault will appear before the motorsport council of world governing body, the FIA, on December 6 in Monaco.
A statement on the FIA Web site on Thursday confirmed the news:
"The team representatives have been called to answer a charge that between September 2006 and October 2007, in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code, the Renault F1 Team had unauthorized possession of documents and confidential information belonging to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes."
The statement went on, saying it was "not limited to the layout and critical dimensions of the McLaren F1 car, together with details of the McLaren fueling system, gear assembly, oil cooling system, hydraulic control system and a novel suspension component used by the 2006 and 2007 McLaren F1 cars."
The development comes on the day that it emerged that FIA inspectors had already visited McLaren as part of their investigation to ensure no Ferrari innovations would be on the 2008 McLaren car.
Rumors of a possible charge against Renault have been in circulation since the end of the season.
They were dragged into the McLaren spying affair when it was alleged a former member of staff had taken several CDs worth of data to the Renault team.
McLaren's lawyers brought the matter to the attention of the FIA on the eve of their own hearing in September, which prompted the investigation by the sport's governing body.
Renault won the Formula One drivers' and constructors' titles in 2005 and 2006, but failed to win a race in 2007 following the departure of world champion Fernando Alonso to McLaren.
Alonso, who has left McLaren after a controversial season, is expected to return to his former team for the 2008 campaign. E-mail to a friend