Debate: Your verdict on Max Mosley

Max Mosley, FIA Gala, 2006On 9th October 1991 Max Mosley defeated incumbent FIA President Jean Marie Balestre by 43 votes to 29. In the 16 years that have passed with Mosley at the helm the sport has changed dramatically in character.

But has it changed for the better? Has Formula 1 been efficiently and professionally managed under Mosley’s stewardship? Is 16 years simply too long for anyone, however competent, to hold this kind of office?

Sweeping regulations changes have characterised Mosley’s time as President. The first, in 1994, banned electronic driver aids such as traction control and active suspension.

After the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna further changes aimed at slowing the cars followed and making the sport safer followed. Engine sizes were cut, more demanding crash tests introduced and circuit safety was pursued with greater vigour.

More controversial changes came in 1998 with the advent of the grooved tyre & narrow track regulations. The new millennium brought even greater restrictions, with engines required to last for two races, then cut in capacity to 2.4 litre V8s and then frozen in specification for three years.

Mosley’s relations with the teams and disputes over the future direction of the sport have frequently spilled out into the public domain. Many felt he could have done more to prevent the debacle at Indianapolis in 2005 when only six cars participated in the race.

Lately his stance on the future direction of Formula 1 has been the subject of intense debate. Mosley wants to see greater use of environmentally-friendly technologies in F1 and fully intends to use the rule book to mandate it.

Of course, Mosley’s remit within the FIA goes far beyond just looking after Formula 1. But, for the purposes of this debate, has Mosley’s tenure as President been on the whole good or bad for the sport?

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31 comments on Debate: Your verdict on Max Mosley

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  1. Number 38 said on 22nd March 2007, 16:09

    For a man who has spent so much of his life in and around F1 ….. he seems to have a very poor concept of the “sport”, and certainly poor management skills.
    He just keeps adding pages to a rulebook that itself is variable in many areas and each team needs a lawyer just to read the thing! PINNACLE of motorsport? We who follow F1 would like to think so but MadMax has done his best to destroy technology and usually AFTER a team has spent millions coming up with a new concept. Renault’s mass damper design for instance, or BAR-Honda’s front brake differential (which was never used) and the list goes on. He has REDUCED F1 to little more than a spec class like GP2 or A1. And now he’s concerned about the environment.
    Make me choke, this is POLITICS invading sport. So, now you know where I stand, who’s next?
    Number 38

  2. Pretty valid. I would say that F1 has quite died if you compare it to 80s for example. Well, no going back I suppose..

  3. I don’t agree with much (most?) of what Max Mosley has done to F1, but what I find particularly irritating about him is the habit of resorting to petty, unpleasant, bullying comments and threats if anyone has the temerity to make public statements he takes a dislike to. This – in my opinion – does far more to bring the sport into disrepute than, say, drivers daring to have opinions on safety. Listening to/reading some of his pronouncements, I sometimes wonder if he actually *likes* motorsport.

  4. A little too much like his father…

  5. What boggles me about F1′s rule changes is that when you read rule changes, and then read the purpose and spirit of the rule changes, followed by what those rule changes have produced, we find that slower tyres, less downforce, and no traction control have produced more dangerous cars, not safer ones, because the goal of the F1 pilots is to win the race first and foremost. Keeping the car on the track is a secondary consideration.

    What should the new ‘environmental’ rules be? An efficiency requirement (fuel limit)? Ban petrol in the interest of promoting new fuels? Doing so would require other development rules to be rescinded, and I think the future is going to make Mosley look more and more like a hypocrite when it comes to both safety and budget control.

    I agree with Number 38, that I do not understand how Mosley can justify disallowing innovations after so much effort has gone into them. Perhaps FIA need to monitor the teams more closely if they intend to control costs in an effective and meaningful manner, not that the result would be any more agreeable than red sidewalled tyres.

  6. I’ll echo the above – it’s quite clear he’s only interested in one thing, and that’s power.

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd March 2007, 21:01

    I can never equate Mosley often pompous tone with the substance of his rule changes which are often riddled with very obvious flaws from the outset and then require further, and often equally flawed, changes to ‘fix’ them.

    I can think of no better example than qualifying, which has had something like five substantial changes since 2003, and still has this ludicrous ‘fuel burn’ period which makes the sport look palpably stupid.

  8. I can remember the sigh of relief we all gave when crazy Jean-Marie Balestre was finally ousted and Max got in. Looking back I realise that we had no idea what we were getting – Balestre’s worst feature was that he was ludicrously biased towards anything French or had the word “Ferrari” written on it, but Mighty Max has made fundamental changes that are designed only to line the pockets of the FIA and never mind the sport. Would that we were saddled with a president who was merely laughable instead of one who seems determined to change F1 into a money-making machine for big business and politics.

  9. Nathan Jones said on 23rd March 2007, 7:50

    for a start i reckon the sport is for the worse since max came in, less passing – exciting racing – and the drivers simply wait for the pitstops to overtake someone!
    he wants f1 to be environmentally friendly? well then y r they running around for 10mins in quali simply to ‘burn fuel’? not only is it lacking in entertainment watching cars go around 2-3 secs off the times they can do just to burn fuel it also makes a complete farce of “qualifying” which is about speed alone!
    i just hope that when the standard ecu’s come in that we get rid of tc and make this once again a “drivers sport”, sadly i read a rumour online last week saying he mentioned bringing in “stabilty control” which makes a mockery of thier even being a “drivers championship”!
    these guys are meant to be the “best” drivers in the world and most of the appeal of the sport is seeing who is the best and thier on track antics (power-sliding, overtaking) etc have been removed because of electronics!
    just think for a moment that max said 2-3 yrs ago that 1 Mr. Ayrton senna had sent him an xmas card pleading for driver aids to be banned! also i’d say that Gilles Villeneuve would not be half the legend he is in todays cars with driver aids!

  10. I agree with Clive, he was Bonkers Balestre in my book, and Max seemed like a change in the right direction. I feel that he had one great charge in that he was the first FIA director who did something for non-sporting reasons, that might sound hypocritical, but actually it was good. He started out making the sport safer. But after a while he realised that nobody would be able to argue with “safe” and so he just pushed through whatever he wanted under the auspices of safety. That is a travesty. The sport shouldn’t be bullied, and in many ways what happened at Indy was a reaction to that, and the fact that Michelin is no longer in the sport is a subsequent reaction to that.

    Formula 1 is a great sport, and the Euro N-Cap safety tests are something that Max and the FIA did that were surely a great thing that everyone can agree on. But it was his realisation that he could get people to agree with him because of safety that was his undoing. His foray into environmentalism is a version of the same thing. How he can hypocritcally say that F1 should address the environement and have a fuel burn phase is beyond me (as Keith says).

    The question is, can you think of somebody better?

  11. Right at this moment – just about anyone, Alex. ;)

  12. Number 38 said on 29th March 2007, 2:30

    “The question is, can you think of somebody better? (Alex A.)

    YES! I will be available when MadMax’s term expires.

    Number 38

  13. He’s useless…

  14. I never experienced Balestre’s reign first-hand (he was outvoted two years before I started watching F1), but early-era Mosely was exactly what F1 required. Admittedly it was at the expense of other motorsports, but Max was the one who gave the safety culture in F1 the space and funding it needed to vastly improve F1 safety. That is a big credit on his side – and with Bernie preventing the other motor sports from succeeding anyway, it didn’t matter too much that they were largely left to their own devices.

    What Max appears to have forgotten in his quest for additional power (probably to push the manufacturers to achieve his vision of motoring in general) is that all sports need a certain amount of space provided to them in order to thrive. Teams need time to adapt to rules, otherwise unbridgeable inequality sets in between teams. People need time to get used to the more intricate consequences of ruleset changes, otherwise they get fed up of unforeseen obscure rules interfering with their sport. Series need space in order to obtain their own unique identity. That’s been lost with millenium-spec Mosely.

    He has now decided to micro-manage all FIA-regulated motorsport (F1 is not the only series to have had frequent and unhelpful rule changes), and the results are clear – people are shifting to non-FIA-regulated series such as NASCAR and MotoGP. Just to make himself even less useful, he then effectively gave the manufacturers power to impose their own agendas upon the FIA (hence why the environmental rhetoric has been backed up today by… …rules that will probably harm the environment).

    I suppose what I’m trying to say is that Max Mosely was a great president who stayed two terms longer than he should have done and suffered the inevitable consequences. In future, I would want an alternate-term system; all presidents who get elected may only stay one five-year term (or shorter if they wish), and then spend five years doing whatever they like – as long as it does not involve any FIA work whatsoever. After the five-year break, that person may stand for the presidency for another term. This would avoid this sort of power-chasing, since presidents would require a wider viewpoint (increasing effectiveness and originality) and there would be time for a wider range of people to be considered.

  15. Christopher said on 1st August 2007, 14:25

    What I find most worrying is how Mosley changed the rules before the most recent FIA election to all but bar any competition to himself.

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