F1: Mercedes suing departing employee for alleged data theft

The Mercedes F1 Team dominated the Formula One World Championship in 2015.

Steven Tee

Mercedes has launched a legal action against an engineer from its F1 power unit division who is planning to join Scuderia Ferrari, alleging that he took confidential data and documents.

Former Prodrive and Cosworth employee Ben Hoyle joined Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains in May 2012, and held the position of Performance Application Team Leader.

He subsequently told the team that he was leaving when his contract expired at the end of this year. When the company found out that he intended to go to Ferrari he was assigned to other duties that did not give him access to sensitive F1 information.

However, according to a Bloomberg report, the suit alleges that he “searched for and saved files including a race report from the Hungary 2015 Grand Prix, mileage and damage data relating to Mercedes’ F1 engines and files containing code required to decrypt raw race data files.”

The suit says that Hoyle’s “actions were calculated to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust,” adding that “Mr. Hoyle and potentially Ferrari have gained an unlawful advantage.”

In addition to seeking the return of confidential material, Mercedes wants to ensure that Hoyle doesn’t work for anyone else until the end of 2016.

A Mercedes statement said: “Legal action is underway involving Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains Ltd. and an employee. The company has taken the appropriate legal steps to protect its intellectual property.”