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.