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Former Ferrari engineer dies in car accident

LONDON -- Former Ferrari head of performance Nigel Stepney, who was at the center of the Formula One spy scandal in 2007, has died in a car accident. He was 56.

JRM Racing, the motorsports outfit Stepney joined in 2010 as team manager and technical director, said the Briton was killed on Friday but did not provide further details. Police said he was hit by a truck after stopping his vehicle on the side of the road on a highway outside London, and that an investigation was under way.

Stepney was fired by Ferrari after being accused of passing data to the McLaren team, and he never worked in F1 again.

The scandal broke after a 780-page technical dossier on Ferrari cars was found at the home of McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan. McLaren was fined a record US$100 million and kicked out of the manufacturers' championship after being accused of using the leaked information.

Stepney, who was also found guilty of trying to sabotage Kimi Raikkonen's car at the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix, was sentenced to a year and eight months in prison but did not serve time.

James Rumsey, the owner of JRM Racing, said Stepney “was a vitally important member of the team and brought a level of engineering experience to us that was unrivalled.”

Stepney had a long career in F1 working with the late Ayrton Senna and helping Michael Schumacher to five F1 titles.

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