Mercedes is suing one of its Formula One engineers, one Benjamin Hoyle, claiming he was planning to take sensitive data to a competitor.

An experienced powertrain engineer, Hoyle came to Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains in 2012 with previous experience at Prodrive and Cosworth. One of four team leaders at the company, Hoyle headed up the performance application department until he notified his employers of his intention not to seek renewal of his contract that expires at the end of this year. Once they found out that Hoyle was switching to Ferrari, the higher-ups at Mercedes reassigned him to other, less sensitive duties, however Hoyle was reportedly discovered accessing race reports and other sensitive data relating to the performance of the team's engines.

In response, Mercedes has filed suit against Hoyle, claiming that he "and potentially Ferrari have gained an unlawful advantage." The German automaker is seeking the return of all documents and the payment of its legal fees. It also seeks to prevent Hoyle from working for another F1 team throughout next season.

Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains is the Daimler's F1 engine division. Based in Brixworth, UK, it was founded back in 1983 together with Ilmor before Mercedes bought it outright. Aside from the company's own works team, the outfit this year powered Williams, Lotus, and Force India, and previously worked with McLaren as well as Sauber.

This is not the first time that a case of industrial espionage has emerged in F1. A similar controversy erupted in 2007 surrounding engineers Nigel Stepney and Mike Coughlan. The highly publicized incident became known as "Spygate" or "Stepneygate" and involved the illegal sharing of secrets between Ferrari, McLaren, and Renault.

Share This Photo X