THE grieving partner of ex-Ferrari technician Nigel Stepney has paid tribute to a wonderful partner and father.

Mr Stepney was at the centre of the spy-gate scandal when he leaked confidential Ferrari information to McLaren ahead of the 2007 season.

He found guilty of sabotage, industrial espionage and sporting fraud and was sacked by Ferrari, never working in Formula One again.

Mr Stepney, 56, died after he was in collision with a lorry after he stopped on the hard shoulder of the M20 near Ashford in Kent and got out of his van.

Ash Naidoo, who lives in the Colchester area and is the mother of Nigel’s seven-year-old daughter, Sabine, paid tribute to him.

She said: “Nigel was wonderful to know; larger than life and full of energy.

"Motor sport was his passion topped only by his love and devotion to Sabine and me.”

She added: “Nigel was a wonderful partner and a hands-on dad who was besotted with his daughter who idolized him in return.

“Nigel’s death has left a void in our lives that will never be filled.

"This is a terrible time and I am so grateful for the love and support of our family and friends and Nigel’s colleagues from the world of motor sport, especially JRM.”