Former Ferrari mechanic Nigel Stepney, who was notably involved in the Formula One ‘spygate’ saga in 2007, has died.
Stepney was involved in a traffic accident in the early hours of Friday morning in Kent, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The 56-year-old made his first foray into Formula One in the late 70s with Shadow, following Elio de Angelis to Lotus – where he later engineered Ayrton Senna – before a switch to the Benetton team in 1989.
In 1993 Stepney joined Ferrari, and in the late 90s and early 00s played a key role in the ‘dream team’ that won six consecutive constructors’ trophies between 1999 and 2004, alongside Michael Schumacher, Jean Todt and Ross Brawn.
Following his dismissal from Ferrari in 2007 for his involvement in the ‘spygate’ scandal, Stepney never worked in Formula One again.
He had most recently held the role of Team Manager and Technical Director at sportscar team JRM Racing.
James Rumsey, the owner of JRM Racing, has paid tribute to Stepney.
“A man that engineered Ayrton Senna at Lotus and helped to guide Michael Schumacher to five Formula One world championships with Ferrari was the perfect candidate to establish JRM as a serious team in circuit-based motorsport and the role that he played in achieving that standard will never be underestimated or forgotten.
“Nigel was an intense and fierce competitor and always strived for excellence in our racing.
“We certainly could not have achieved our level of success without his leadership and experience.
“Away from the track, he was a focused, driven and passionate member of the JRM Group, and a loving father to his family.
“The rest of the engineering and race team here at JRM learned an unimaginable amount from Nigel in the four short years he was with us and his death this morning has shocked everyone to the core.
“Today, the motorsport world has lost one of its greatest characters and competitors.
“He will be sorely missed and we send our sincere condolences to his family and the many friends he leaves behind.
“Our prayers and thoughts are with Ash and Sabine.”
Image courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari