Max Mosley has fired off another letter to the members of the FIA World motor sport council, in the wake of negative comments from FOTA members over the deal struck on Wednesday.
Mosley wrote to FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo yesterday demanding an apology for the ‘misleading’ statements he and other FOTA team bosses had made. No apology was made at the FOTA press conference, however Montezemolo did write back to Mosley yesterday saying that he had read Mosley’s comments with amazement and pointed out how his observations had been misunderstood. Montezemolo went on to reaffirm respect for all the agreements made with the FIA.
If Mosley was unhappy with Montezemolo’s jibe about the sport not needing another ‘dictator’, he was incandescent with Toyota boss John Howett’s assertion that the FIA needed to elect someone ‘independent’ as the next FIA president. Howett meant someone with no previous links to an F1 team, in other words, not Jean Todt.
In today’s letter Mosley again encourages the FIA members to see the threat to the FIA’s standing and livelihood behind FOTA’s behaviour. To him, they want to take over.
“It is disappointing that Montezemolo did not keep his part of the bargain we made last Wednesday. I had anyway decided not to offer myself for re-election next October and, given what I have had to contend with during the last 12 months, I needed a peaceful summer before starting a more leisurely existence.
“The compromise we found was therefore acceptable to me personally and seemed in the overall interests of Formula 1. But when FOTA falsely claimed that they had ousted me and imposed their will on the FIA, the situation became intolerable. No doubt we face a difficult period. This may well result in short-term problems in Formula 1. It is possible that FOTA will set up an independent series. That is their right, provided they do so under the International Sporting Code.
“But the Formula 1 World Championship will continue to be run by the FIA as it has been for 60 years. The Championship has had difficult times in the past and no doubt will again in the future but that is no reason to hand control to an outside body, still less one with little or no understanding of sporting ethics and under the control of an industry we have constantly to monitor.
“Member clubs of the FIA from all over the world have made it clear that they will never allow the car industry to decide who may and who may not be president of the FIA,” he said.
“This has nothing to do with me as an individual, it is about the independence of the FIA and its member clubs as defenders of the motorist and arbiters of international motor sport.”
There has been some suggestion that some of these FIA world council members might step into the limelght to have their say on the matter, presumably backing up what Mosley is saying.
Meanwhile there has been some speculation that this change of heart by Mosley may lead to the breakaway being back on, but I think we should be cautious before reaching that conclusion. Firstly I don’t detect that FOTA is too concerned with today’s developments; they are pressing ahead with shaping the 2010 rules and know that Mosley is leaving office in October. The agreement achieved on Wednesday has been voted through by the world council in any case. They see this as MM trying to create artificial tension, while arguing that the FIA needs a ‘strong’ president who is experienced in F1 – ie Jean Todt. I get the impression that not even Ferrari want him to be the president. But as Mosley points out, FOTA has no say in that vote.
We will see what exactly he means by ‘short-term problems’ in the coming weeks, I guess.
It appears that nothing has been signed yet, but the drivers which moved the situation forwards to the solution agreed on Wednesday are just as valid now as they were then. And they are largely commercial.
CVC has a big investment in Formula 1 and its options for making an exit are limited, but all roads would appear to lead to an IPO at some stage in the future. Wednesday’s agreement lays out a path for that and it’s hard to see a return to the uncertainty which threatened F1.
Renault boss Flavio Briatore touched on CVC’s role yesterday when he said of the contract with the commercial rights holder,
“It runs to 2012 but we would be interested in extending it. We need to increase the number of viewers and balance what the teams spend with what they take in. F1 should be a profit centre. Actors don’t pay to appear in films, spending more than they take in, like the Blues Brothers.”