The McLaren Formula One team last week stunned the F1 community by making a public and wide ranging apology to both Ferrari and the sport's governing body in respect of its illegal use of Ferrari technical data. 

The team has already been fined £50m and lost all its constructors' world championship points from the 2007 season as a result of the debacle.

Following a detailed technical examination of both their current and newly designed 2008 challenger, the MP4-23, the team acknowledged that it has now become clear that Ferrari information was more widely disseminated within their organisation than was previously communicated.

McLaren admitted that it "greatly regrets that its own investigations did not identify this material "and has written to the World Motor Sport Council to apologise for this.

The FIA has responded to McLaren's statement by announcing that their president Max Mosley has asked the World Motor Sport Council for permission to cancel February's meeting and consider the matter closed.

"In the light of McLaren's public apology and undertakings, the FIA President has asked the members of the WMSC for their consent to cancel the hearing scheduled for 14 February 2008 and, in the interests of the sport, to consider this matter closed," said the FIA in a statement.

By any standards this was a grovelling apology which demonstrated how anxious the British team is to rule off below an acutely embarrassing episode which began when their disgraced chief designer Mike Coughlan was found to be in possession of over 700 drawings allegedly supplied by the Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney.

Had McLaren been forced to wait until February for the new car to be formally signed off for use, any modifications which might be required to satisfy the governing body may have to be rushed or perhaps not even completed prior to the first race in Australia.

The McLaren group chief operating officer Martin Whitmarsh also wrote has sent a letter to the FIA which in the interests of transparency they published last night together with a formal press statement.

He has also written to the world motor sport council to apologise that it has taken an FIA investigation to find this information and have expressed their deep regret that their understanding of the facts was improved as a result of the FIA inspection rather than their own investigations.

McLaren also admitted that " this entire situation could have been avoided if we had informed Ferrari and the FIA about Nigel Stepney's first communication when it came to our attention. We are, of course, embarrassed by the successive disclosures and have apologised unreservedly to the FIA world motor sport council."

Furthermore, to avoid even the possibility of Ferrari information influencing their performance during 2008, McLaren has offered a set of detailed undertakingsto the FIA which will impose a moratorium on development in relation to certain technical systems on the car.

As if all this ritual humiliation was not enough for a team which has always prided itself on its high standards of probity and integrity, McLaren has felt it necessary to conduct a thorough review of its policies and procedures regarding the recruitment and management of staff. The proposals arising from this thorough review have been disclosed to the FIA and McLaren has agreed todemonstrate that all of these policies and procedures have been fully implemented.