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Should Mosley Resign?

Should Mosley Resign?

A major talking point of the last few days has been the war of words between FIA President, Max Mosley, and respected triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart. The argument stems from the way the FIA – Formula One’s governing body – have dealt with the McLaren/Ferrari spy saga, and subsequently the words each high-profiled member of the F1 fraternity has used. Talks of legal action, resignations and poor performance have all come to the fore, and it looks very likely to continue well after the 2007 world champion has been crowned.

Following the decision made by the FIA on September 13th, 2007 to exclude and fine the McLaren team, Jackie Stewart has spoken out against the FIA, voicing his concerns over how the matter was handled, and now how the body is governed.

The FIA certainly have fallen foul of some errors this year, the ill-prepared document that was released to press recently being just one such occasion. In such a high-profiled case that centred on the divulgence of classified information from one team to another, it is ridiculous to think that the FIA would release a document containing such data to not only the teams, but also the world. The fact that it happened shows the gross inadequacies the FIA has in certain areas.

I have also previously discussed, here and elsewhere, why I find the punishment handed to McLaren to be inconsistent at best, and championship-finale fixing at worst. I tend not to buy into such conspiracy theories, but even Mosley has been quoted as saying “FIA-rrari” recently.

To his credit, Mosley has tried to abate the voices by standing his ground and reaffirming his position, but what happened next came as quite a surprise, not least to Jackie Stewart himself.

He [Stewart] goes round dressed up as a 1930s music hall man. He’s a certified halfwit. Max Mosley.

Stewart, as I’m sure you can imagine, is not impressed and countered Mosley with following.

As far as I am concerned, it looks as if we are shooting ourselves in both feet, not with a pistol, but with a semi-automatic rifle, and the governing body is damaging the reputation of the whole sport and bringing it into disrepute.

They [the FIA] are acting in self-interest and I believe there has to be greater accountability. Perhaps Max Mosley has been in the job too long. I definitely think that he should consider his position and that a new president should be headhunted from outside the sport, so there is no conflict of interest.

This has nothing to do with me and Max – nor am I acting in any way, shape or form, on behalf of the McLaren team – but I honestly think that decisions are being made which are detrimental to our business and we have to accept that it is time for a change. Jackie Stewart.

For sure, sometimes the pressure can get the better of you, and on occasion the wrong words slip out. With all that has happened over the course of the 2007 season, it was bound to happen to someone at some time. But it was Mosley’s follow up that has probably caused even more damage.

Refusing to back down and apologise for his statement, Max has arguably hammered another nail into his coffin, metaphorically speaking.

I have no apology to make for having said as much publicly and I am more than happy to repeat this view about him now and in the future.

Max Mosley, speaking last week.

And speaking again more recently…

Jackie Stewart’s latest comments are as misconceived as those he made prior to the McLaren World Council hearing in September.

During a highly charged and controversial season it is of course understandable that many in the United Kingdom feel great sympathy for the plight of McLaren and Lewis Hamilton. In the same way it is understandable for many on the continent to feel great sympathy for the plight of double world champion Fernando Alonso.

However, it is not the role of the FIA to court popularity by supporting one party or the other. It is the role of the FIA to ensure that the rules of the sport are respected and that fairness is applied consistently for all competitors.

If drivers from another team complain about what they consider to be the unsafe driving of a race leader in atrocious weather conditions which then results in an accident, does anyone, even Jackie Stewart, honestly believe the sporting authorities should not examine the new evidence presented to them?

When the Spanish Motor Sport Authority seeks safeguards to ensure fair play should the international governing body ignore their request?

Jackie Stewart seems to have forgotten that McLaren received information on a daily basis for over three months plus a dossier of 780 pages from a spy in its main rival. It was for this they incurred a record sanction and expulsion from the Constructors’ Championship. They did not appeal as they undoubtedly would have done had Jackie’s ill-considered views had any merit.

The bandying of partisan and ill informed comments in the media may well result in increased book sales for his new autobiography but they can do little more than confirm my view that Jackie is in no position to provide useful observations upon issues of motor sport governance. Max Mosley.

So, first of all Mosley calls Stewart a “certified halfwit”, and then suggests he is only speaking out because he wants to boost sales of his new autobiography. And despite Stewart not only being a triple world champion, former team owner and head of the BRDC as well as being one of the great advocates of safety improvement in the sport, Max also believes that Jackie is in no position to make useful observations on the governing of the sport. Way to go Max.

While Stewart considers legal action against Mosley, one has to consider if the resignation of the FIA president is not only necessary, but overdue.

Mosley certainly shouldn’t have said what he said. The man is mature, in a very public position and should know how to respond to these criticisms by now. After all, he has had to deal with a fair few in the past. Max should have also apologised to Stewart for the playground name-calling, which would have undoubtedly cooled the air somewhat and perhaps allowed a greater chance of some real debate about the matter at hand.

Or is Jackie really in no place to say the things he has said? Should he leave it up to the FIA and keep his nose out? I honestly believe this to be incorrect, as proven by Stewart’s advocacy of safety back in the sixties and seventies. The Scotsman worked tirelessly to improve something, despite the fact he was probably causing headaches for others at the time. But it worked, and safety improved, and under Max’s rule, it has continued to this day.

The public falling out between the pair only adds to the damage caused to Formula One this year. On top of so many controversies, penalties and result changes, F1 needs some stability. It also needs some fresh air and a fresh perspective – and as Stewart says, maybe a change in leadership would help that. I’m not sure Max can bring that stability, and I certainly do not believe he can assess his own perspective on the FIA’s involvement in the sport.

Do you think Max should resign? Would a change in the FIA presidency help or hinder Formula One right now? Is Stewart taking Mosley’s words too personally, or is he hitting certain nails squarely on the head? Have your say in the comments below.

Oliver White

14 comments

  • Just as the Stepney/Coughlan stuff has reaffirmed Ron Dennis’s desire to stay on at McLaren, I’m sure this spat will ensure Max stays at the FIA for a while to come.

    If he left now, everyone would link it to this episode which would be far from what he would like – so unless he gets pushed, he won’t jump just yet.

    I can understand why Max got a little narked with Stewart, everybody and anybody seemed to have an opinion on the outcome of the McLaren hearing and all were questioning the decision. This is bound to put him under quite a bit of stress and pressure, but his outburst went a little bit too far.

    I thought that he would just apologise for calling Stewart a halfwit and all would be well, but I don’t understand why he is standing by his comment.

    As you say, this is foolish in the extreme but unless more than just Jackie Stewart stands up against him then I can’t see Max leaving yet – even though I personally think it’s probably time that he did.

  • The sad state of affairs in F1 will continue until Max goes.I think it is high time. His personal politics is bringing the sport down furthur, nearing the non-watchable. Almost Childish in his persuit of Ron Dennis in the step/coug affair, and anything NON-Ferrari. His ability & judgement is alledgedly now just self serving.

  • Reading Mosley’s second response to Stewart it was painfully obvious that he was doing everything he could to distract attention from what Damon Hill pointed out – that calling someone with dyslexia a ‘certifiable halfwit’ is a disgraceful cheap shot that he should apologise for.

    I would stop far short of saying that everything Mosley has done for F1 has been negative – safety standards have improved considerably. It is essential that F1 aligns itself with the white heat of technological progress in the automotive industry, which at the moment means developing green technologies, and Mosley is well aware of that.

    But by many other measures F1 could be doing far better – marketing, public awareness, the depth of the sporting challenge, transparency, consistency in the application of regulations, numbers of competitors and more.

    Above all, I’m not convinced that his manufacturers-come-first approach is sustainable. As soon as there’s the whiff of an economic downturn they will go, and then we’ll feel the pinch of Mosley’s hare-brained engine regulations squeezing Cosworth out of the sport.

    Finally, 15 years is clearly too long for one person in the same job. But do remember there is more to his job than just F1.

  • Great comments so far. I have to agree with Craig that he won’t stand down, not yet anyway and certainly not while all this is happening.

    Regarding the FIAs position in the motoring industry, they do an awful lot of work in pushing safety and education to the fore as Keith states. They have done some good as I mentioned in the post. But that isn’t entirely down to Mosley rather than the organisation. Putting another figure in place of Max would hopefully see the continuation of these core elements of the FIA and hopefully provide a better person to assess the needs of the sports they govern and their fans.

  • …”However, it is not the role of the FIA to court popularity by supporting one party or the other. It is the role of the FIA to ensure that the rules of the sport are respected and that fairness is applied consistently for all competitors.”…

    First of all, i apologize about my bad english…

    Second…That´s amazing!! Why Fia took party in Hungaroring?? If Alonso stayed 10 sec at the pit lane, it was a team decision and private problem…But maFIA punished the team and Alonso because Hamilton and his daddy called Stewards !!

    Wellcome to the real world !!!

  • Hi kechy, no problem with your language, I think we can all see what you’re getting at.

    Regarding the Hungary incident, Alonso and the team were penalised because Alonso impeded another driver during qualifying. Normally this happens on the track, but it could also happen in the pitlane, as shown by Alonso and Hamilton. The events that led to the incident were private to the team (in my mind), but what Alonso did was not, as it infringed the rules of the sport.

  • Max won’t go until he’s pushed. And the more he opens his mouth, the closer the push comes. What was that old saying? “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

  • This is becoming a bad Joke. Equality ‘ref’ ? Team Orders -Ferrari built the whole of Schumacher’s titles on such a method. What and how a team runs its operations, is their privilege and aways has been. McLaren is the only team to stick to ‘equal status’ until it is illogial not to get in the way of the leading team member,near the end of the season. I believe Alonso asked for Number one status before he threw his toys out of his pram – now he wants to be treated equally? Bye..Bye..Max take Alonso with you. Dont forget the bib.

  • This is a different world from the one these guys (Mosley,Ecclestone and really, anyone else at the FIA) have experienced in the past. Honestly, I don’t think they are up to the task of directing this sport into the future. They seem to be bent on dragging it down while sucking the profit out of it. We (Yanks) refer to out of touch CEO’s and politicians as “stupid old white guys”. It’s a dig at the old guard’s way of doing things, a criticism of how out of touch they are and that it’s time for them to move on. The term seems to apply here.

    F1 is a business but,it’s also entertainment. There are investors to appease and at the same time, if you alienate your audience you burn your profits. These guys don’t actually appear to recognize that running this show the way they want to because they did and because they can and because it still turns a profit just doesn’t cut it anymore. I don’t think they give a damn about the future of it anymore, or if they do they don’t have a clue how to grow it. It’s time to turn it over to someone who does and who can. But, who would that be? What is actually in place in a post Bernie/Max era?

    They don’t appear to respect anyone, team, supplier, driver. I know they must or it would have fallen apart by now, but, transparency is important if you’re actually depending on someone else to spend money on your endeavor. Especially if it’s you and me paying a hefty portion of a paycheck or two for ticket, travel and accomodation. The hardcore will gather regardless but, if you’re trying to grow your profit base-and in this age of diversity and access to entertainment, F1 better be thinking about growing that base, you aren’t going to succeed unless your audience can trust you to administer to the high standards you tout. It’s an entertainment buyers market out there, Bernie, Max & the rest of the governing body are treating it like a feudal village, they being the landlords.

    If something at the top levels isn’t changed then, honestly, I worry that some of the more outrageous statements we’ve seen voiced this year, the ones that go beyond mild favoritism and arbitrary blind eyes, the ones that tread upon the actual skewing of outcomes could actually be taken seriously, justified or not and truly damage the series.

  • Unfotrunately F1 fans around the world watched yesterday ,maybe, the most embarrasing final in F1 history.

    It would be by far more fair to the F1 fans to be announced the new world champion by Max Mosley than to watch a theatrical play on TV of how McLaren lose the driver’s campionship.

    Suddenly only in the last race Alonso was 45 secs slower than the ferraris.

    Suddenly only in the last race Hamilton’s gearbox shifted to neutral and then started working properly only when Lewis was 16th.

    Suddenly the Big bosses of McLaren accepted the above performance of their team like we was back in 2001, but just for the one and only final race.

    Suddenly there wasn’t any safety car during the race even though turn 1,2 and 3 was full of debris from accidents (Renault,Spyker etc.).

    Suddenly all f1 fans around the world became STUPID and believe that the above are coincidences.

    I try to find Max Mosley’s e-mail adress to send him a proposal.I think that in next season’s debut he’d better announce us who will take the two titles (drivers & constructors), in which race of the season, whether or not his beloved team (Ferrari) will be ruling all the sport AGAIN, which teams must obey all the rules and which must obey some of them, what new measures he’ll take to help Ferrari AGAIN,which GP we must visit in order to see a real and CLEAR RACE and which not.Finally I want to Remind to dear Max that he shouldn’t forget NOT to diqualify BMW or Williams for their fuel temperature (equality against rules) because that will be against Ferrari’s benefit.

    PLEASE anyone that knows his e-mail send to me at *.

    *Email address removed due to BlogF1’s policy. Due to spamming techniques employed by unscrupulous individuals on the internet, BlogF1 will not forward, display or sell any email address without express prior written permission.

  • John, of comment # 10. Suddenly in Hungary Hamilton did not respect his turn. Suddenly who they punished was Alosno, even though he was following orders. Suddenly there has been an investigation in the Final race on cars positioned #4, #5, and #6. Suddenly Hamilton was #7. Suddenly Hamilton has the same childish mistake than the previous race, take a pass from a fellow driver too personally without the brain to act cold about it. Suddenly Hamilton has the best car ever for a novice. Suddenly Alonso arrives to McLaren and a crappy car becomes the best. Suddenly Hamilton almost crashed Raikkonen in the qualifications and nithing happened to him. Suddenly a lamp falls, of all places, in the middle of the season on top of Alonso’s car. Suddenly Alonso’s tires had too much air. Suddenly Hamilton uses an illegal set of tyres in Brazil and they only penalized the team, not him. Suddenly Dennis commented two races ago off-the-air (but caught) the enemy was Alonso, not Raikkonen. Suddenly Hamilton clearly broke several times in purpose behind the safety car, and suddenly nithing happened, even though 18 racers beleived he should have been punished. Suddenly Ron Dennis and McLaren got what they deserved.

  • Oliver (comment #6): Did Hamilton used a legal set of tyres in the qualifications at Brazil?. Did Hamilton used his brakes appropiately in Japan behind the saftey car?. Was Hamilton’s the first car to be towed at Nürburg and placed back on the race? (even though he was not the first to crash, and he could only be towed to get it out of the way) Did Hamilton got in the way of Raikkonen in the last lap of the qualifications at Brazil (if he did nothing wrong, why did he apologised to Raikkonen)?. Should have Hamilton left the car when it was stuck in China faster than 90 seconds later? Did he and Ron, against the rules, asked to be pushed (as it is mandatory when your car is stuck in a dangerous place you should leave the car inmediately)? Did Hamilton get any penalty for any of those instances? Where is the FIA based in? What is the home country of Ecclestone? What country created F1? Where is Hamilton and McLaren from?

  • @Eddy:

    1. I don’t see how Hamilton can be blamed for the mis-use of tyres during the Brazilian Grand Prix practice sessions. For sure, it may have been Hamilton’s call, but the team should have known better – it is partly why they are there.

    2. Up for debate. From one view it looks one way, from another, another. If you’re asking for my opinion, I have to be honest and say his behaviour was strange, but I don’t think he was intentionally trying to cause an incident.

    During the previous safety car period in Japan, I would have to say that in my opinion, Hamilton was overly aggressive.

    3. Hamilton was clearly lifted back on the circuit and able to rejoin the re-grouped grid for the restart. No doubting that. Regarding the order, I wasn’t paying that much attention, but surely it should be in the order of most-dangerously-positioned first. If all are equal, then common sense would suggest that the last in is the first out as it is easier to do it that way.

    4. Erm, check the official quote from Hamilton.

    5. I’m unaware of Ron’s involvement in asking for Hamilton to be pushed out of the gravel in China. It clearly looked as though Hamilton was requesting a push, but when it wasn’t forthcoming he got out of the car. Reminiscent of Michael Schumacher in many ways. 😉

    6. Yes. A pretty severe fine for #1, very bad press for #2, and of course, the ultimate penalty for all and above. Hamilton and Alonso both lost out for the entire year because of the scandals that have embroiled the teams (note the plural) during 2007.

    7. The FIA headquarters are in Paris. I believe they were once in Geneva, but vague memories indicate to me that this was only for tax reasons. I could be wrong though. Definitely in Paris now though.

    8. Bernie Ecclestone is British.

    9. Again, up for debate. Britain, Italy, France. Definitely not America. 😉 (I love you guys really.)

    10. Hamilton is British, as are McLaren. Although the team are influenced by the multitude of nationalities that work within.

    Honestly, I don’t follow your comment. This post was about my distaste in Max Mosley’s recent unprofessional outburst directed towards Jackie Stewart. It was clearly not about Lewis Hamilton. The title of the post should give a strong indication as to what the post is about.

    Please read the post and the following comments before commenting yourself.

  • @verasaki: I completely missed your comment, I apologise. I totally agree with you with the exception of one word.

    F1 is a business but, it’s also entertainment.

    But it’s also a sport. Is sport entertaining? Certainly! But in my mind, F1 is a sport more than it is entertainment (just). I know 2007 was a bit of a soap opera, but don’t bundle it in with Big Brother, please!

    Great comment though – words of wisdom well spoken.

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