Max Mosley can’t stop talking about spygate

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Max Mosley, FIA Gala, 2006I enjoyed American political drama “The West Wing” very much before it was cancelled two years ago.

I thought of it today, and how the president’s communications experts in the series would earnestly debate the implications of anything he said in public, when I read a new quote from Max Mosley.

The same care and attention is clearly not put into deciding what President Mosley has to say. Today he offered up this gem about the McLaren espionage saga:

Next time, whoever it was, I don’t think they would stay in the championship. In the case of McLaren everybody said ‘oh, a hundred million dollars’, but the alternative would have been to exclude them – and that would have been more expensive!

Let’s get two things straight. First, the espionage story is not only bad for McLaren, it’s very bad for Formula 1 as well. Depending on which side of the fence you’re on, this is either the case of a team being caught cheating and not getting punished properly, or a team getting a draconian punishment for an action that many of their rivals have also committed.

Second, everyone is sick of the espionage story. When McLaren said the magic words in December last year and gave the FIA cause to bring the matter to an end, the reaction from most people I spoke to was relief that it was over, not shock that McLaren had admitted anything.

Whatever your feelings about ‘spygate’, this was a very bad episode for Formula 1 and we’re all better off with the story dead and buried.

So why is Mosley bringing it up again? The only realistic conclusion that can be drawn here is that the governing body suspects another team has been spying. And innuendo of this sport is exactly what F1 does not need in 2008.

Two years ago the Michael Schumacher-Fernando Alonso title battle was interrupted by some really crass interventions by the stewards – particularly the dubious banning of Renault’s mass dampers and Alonso’s ludicrous penalty at Monza. Politics got in the way of what was a fine drivers’ championship.

Last year it was even worse. A spectacular three-way title battle was almost drowned out by interminable rows, not only about spying but the equality between Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton and other controversies at Hungary, Fuji and Interlagos.

In 2008 F1 has to wean itself off this unhealthy preoccupation with scandal. F1 must serve up a sporting spectacle. The spying story is dead and buried and should be left to rot.

Two years ago there was talk of F1 getting a proper public relations front. Watching the president of the Federation de l’Automobile score a PR own goal by not only dragging up the spying story again, but admitting he didn’t punish McLaren strongly enough, it’s clear F1 desperately needs some proper public relations representation.

Photo copyright: FIA

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