Dominoes

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Interlagos, 2005, 470150

Ron Dennis and Max Mosley have never been the best of friends. Mosley once said of Dennis:

Ron has no role in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship apart from that granted him, in common with other teams, by the Concorde Agreement. Unfortunately he find all this rather difficult to understand.

Several years later, and having only recently deflected suggestions he himself was about to resign, I suspect Dennis is quietly enjoying the significant but indirect role McLaren has played in bringing the Mosley presidency to the brink of its demise.

The first domino

In 2005 the CEO of Renault and Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, was taking his time over whether to commit his team to a long-term future in Formula 1.

This made his star driver Fernando Alonso uneasy. Even as he raced his R25 to victory in the championship he was privately becoming concerned that the team he had been with for four years wouldn’t be around very much longer.

And so when he finished third in the Brazilian Grand Prix behind the two McLarens, and by doing so claiming the drivers’ championship, he mentioned in passing to Dennis that he should like to drive for the team one day.

This suited Dennis perfectly. Late in 2005 he must have already been wondering about the long-term future of his new signing for the team, Juan Pablo Montoya, who had missed several races early in the year due to a non-racing injury.

And he must also have suspected that Ferrari were making overtures to his other driver Kimi Raikkonen, about joining their team. And now the new champion was offering to drive for him. He probably couldn’t have got his pen out quickly enough, and two months later the deal was announced.

The first domino had fallen in a chain of events leading to the crisis that now engulfs the president of the FIA.

It all goes wrong for McLaren

To Dennis, having Alonso join the team in 2007 was perfect. He could pair the multiple race-winning champion with the rookie Lewis Hamilton. Dennis’s protege had romped to the Formula Three Euroseries title in 2005 and claimed the GP2 championship the following year.

But as we all know, it didn’t quite work out that way. Not only did Hamilton and Alonso fall out in spectacular fashion, but McLaren found themselves facing an investigation into whether they had used information gleaned illegally for Ferrari.

Mosley pursued the case with his trademark vigour – but to some his effort to prosecute McLaren looked less like justice and more like the execution of a personal grudge.

Martin Brundle, a McLaren driver in 1994, described the investigation as a “witch hunt” in a column for the Sunday Times. A fuming Mosley asked the FIA to begin a legal action against the newspaper, which they agreed to in December last year.

The Mosley scandal

Last week, Mosley found himself explaining to a shocked world why the News of the World had published a story alleging that he had participated in a Nazi-themed bondage session with a number of prostitutes.

Many have drawn a connection between the FIA’s lawsuit agains the Sunday Times, and the News of the World expose, as both are owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

The F1 world is now waiting to see if Mosley jumps from his position as president before he is (surely inevitably) pushed by the FIA Senate.

Meanwhile I suspect Dennis is not too distressed that one of the dominos that fell when his team were fined $100m by Mosley last year may now topple the president.

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51 comments on Dominoes

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  1. Phil B said on 8th April 2008, 20:21

    100 mil to get rid of Mosley rather seems like a bargain now….

    (said by someone who isn’t actually paying the 100 mil)

  2. Green Flag said on 8th April 2008, 20:24

    1. Mosley was enjoying some private S&M entertainment – perfectly legal, if not acceptable to those of prudish persuasion, which had nothing whatsoever to do with the FIA or anyone else (other than, possibly, Mrs. Mosley).
    2. There was nothing Nazi about it – no swastikas, no Hitler salutes, no Lugers. The NOTW labeled it "Nazi" and the idiots of the world, particularly the Mosley-haters, lapped it up.  Max hurt nobody; certainly he didn’t lie, cheat or steal any Ferrari information as others did, and which caused much harm to F1.
    3. It would be some form of poetic justice for Max to hold on his job longer than Ron Dennis does his.

  3. Dave said on 8th April 2008, 20:55

    Can’t subscribe to Phil’s conspiracy theory but agree Mosley has a vendetta against McLaren. Don’t forget that they (McLaren) had to withdraw development in key areas for 2008 although it was never proven that the ideas were nicked from Ferrari. History will show this as the FIA tampering in the result of the 2008 championship – it is no coincidence that Ferrari and BMW currently appear stronger than the British team. The FIA would only do this because the President directed it.

  4. Green Flag, if you can’t correlate Max lurking around conducting his own little S&M circus as improper behavior for the leading moral adjudicator for the planet’s motor sports organizations than there’s no point in belaboring it.

    If he was tactless enough to incite anyone to seek revenge due to his high handed arrogant conductance of his office, than he is unfit to be FIA president.

    Whatever he did in private is now public. He needs to resign and go chase the publications that have allegedly violated his rights to privacy. Let us get on with motor racing and let him try and salvage his reputation on his own time and and on his own dime.

    What would Max’s position have been if it was Ron who were caught in the same situation??? We all know the answer to that one, don’t we.

  5. Compare the reactions of Mosley and Dennis while their other is under pressure. 

    Mosley was quite happy to stick the boot in and make it even worse for Dennis whereas Dennis seems to be taking no (obvious) pleasure in Mosley’s pain and refuses to make any comment.

    Dennis is classy individual with morals and ethics. Mosley is an insecure bully that frankly is getting all that he deserves.

    Harsh, but that’s the way I feel.  Mosley can end it all now by walking away but he’s too far removed from reality.

  6. Green Flag said on 8th April 2008, 21:32

    GeorgeK, don’t write about matters you don’t understand.  Mosely is not the "leading moral adjudicator" of anything. The FIA, and its president, make and enforce rules for motor racing, that’s all. Morality, ethics, social behavior are not and should not be the purview of the FIA.  And Ronzo was caught doing things morally dubious, and he eventually admitted it; he lied, he cheated and he stole. Max indulged in kinky sex. Hardly in the same league.

  7. I think that PAUL STODDART really understand this matter: “As most people who follow Formula One regularly will know, there is a frequently disregarded, but nonetheless, very important official document called the Concorde Agreement. It specifies, in detail, terms for the governance of virtually all aspects of the World Championship, and from it flows the regulatory authority of the International Sporting Code and Technical Regulations. Within Chapter XI of The International Sporting Code, there is a famous Article, 151 c), which deals with a very serious charge that is generally referred to as "Bringing the sport into disrepute" – specifically, this covers "Any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally." This is, of course, the same Article used by FIA President, Max Mosley, so arrogantly to impose the infamous $100 million fine on McLaren last season. Now I would contend that no clearer case of "bringing the sport into disrepute" could exist than that arising from Mosley’s recent perverted antics, which were so graphically publicised last weekend by the News of the World. As he is a signatory to the Concorde Agreement, presumably he is bound by the same rules and liable to the same sanctions he has applied so forcefully against McLaren and other teams." (in Pitpass)

  8. FLIG said on 8th April 2008, 21:52

    I’m with Green Flag on this one. I second both his comments. Juost wish to add that though everyone seems to agree that it is something against McLaren, I’d say it’s more a matter of something in favour of Ferrari. Hamilton almost balanced it out, but season in, season out, I always see Ferrari getting away with sneaky stuff, making others get punished, etc. They really get on my nerves. At least since the Schumacher era.

  9. Oliver said on 8th April 2008, 21:53

    Its pretty obvious now that Max was secretly fantasizing about lashing out at Ron. Unfortunately Ron would not go to the dungeon with him so he was forced to lash out with his tongue and imposing a stupendous fine on Mclaren.  As a matter of fact, many individuals are now reading between the lines, Mclaren’s appointment of the first black driver, and Max’s unbelievable desire to punish the team.

    Max had become a rabid dog, his actions prior to these recent allegations, were already causing the FIA a lot of embarrassment. He was also causing the teams to spend more money with his constant regulation changes, making it difficult for smaller teams to keep up and even make bigger teams waste money unecessarily. It seems his need to inflict pain on others may have been responsible for some of the actions he took.

    He can still watch F1 from the stand.

  10. Gman said on 8th April 2008, 21:59

    Parp, I agree entirely with your anlysis. As for Green Flag’s stance, I believe that someone in a position such as president of the FIA- who represents the interests of fans and teams worldwide- has an obligation to act in a morally responsible fashion. Don’t forget about the tremendous amount of German involvement in F1, in terms of drivers as well as team ownership and bases- everyone in that catagory could be offended by such behavior by the FIA boss.

    Was Dennis himself stealing documents or plans from Ferrari or any other team? Did he use any of the illegal info in the design of this season’s car? I don’t think so.

    Like it or not, but Max can’t shine Ron’s shoes in terms of morals.

  11. Phil B said on 8th April 2008, 22:04

    Green Flag says: "And Ronzo was caught doing things morally dubious, and he eventually admitted it; he lied, he cheated and he stole."

    What?!  Actually there is no proof that he did any of those things.  People who worked for him, possibly, but that is a big difference. 

    It’s a good job Dennis isn’t Mosley or you should be concerned about the libel laws Green Flag.

  12. Well said Becken – disrepute – paying money to people who are conducting – even in private – illegal – in britian there are no legal prostitutes or brothels – like in many other areas of the world – you can be arrested for the offence of kerbcrawling and many prostitutes are given jail sentences for soliciting.
    There are also the health dangers as having no legal prostitution there is widespread danger from disease ie – aids and hepatitis b – there is also the loss of trust with youre partner – they may get infected by their partner.
    All in all an unsavouy episode for someone who goes in public and say that others – the namecallers in spain are undesirables – and that they are stupid/ignorant – max doesnt know how stupid and irresponsible he has been – and probably he never will understand that it’s not in his makeup

  13. Green Flag said on 8th April 2008, 22:18

    Firstly, Gman, Mosley was acting in a responsible fashion. Whatever he did, he did it privately, in secret. Others, those that covertly filmed him, are the morally irresponsible ones.  Secondly, what has German involvement got to do with anything; the NOTW put the NAZI spin on things, not Mosley. (If Max did use a German accent, maybe he was doing a Norbert Haug impersonation?)  Third, of course Dennis knew about the theft of Ferrari’s data. Absolutely nothing happens at McLaren without Ron’s knowledge or permission. Doubtless he saw and authorized the use of Maranello’s ideas and designs.  The only reason McLaren didn’t use Ferrari stuff in the 2008 car is that they were prevented from doing so by the FIA.

  14. Green Flag said on 8th April 2008, 22:30

    Phil B - My final word on this matter: Any and all wrongdoing at McLaren is the responsibility of the CEO, whether he knew of it or not.  But as I wrote earlier, nothing happens at McLaren without Ron Dennis’s knowledge or permission. He demands and has total control of all that happens at Woking.

  15. Just to add Max and his wife have been living in different countries for quite a few years (his wife lives in France, Max in England formerly and now in Monaco).

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