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

  1. Sush said on 9th April 2008, 8:51

    Mosley stated recently that he enjoys reading F1 blogs, maybe he enjoys posting comments too, under the pseudonym Green Flag.

    I’m onto you MadMax!

  2. Michael K said on 9th April 2008, 8:56

    Ok, back to Max and McLaren. My point is,  there is no connection between Max being spanked and McLaren being punished.
    To Max: Anyone saying that there is no Nazi-theme in there would have had to be there or have seen the ful video. If you haven’t, you have no point to make. The little bits of evidence that have been given out seem to suggest that this might have been the case. The NOTW repeatedly pointing to this makes me feel like they are very sure about it, as otherwise this would look very bad in court which is obviously the place where this all will end.

    To McLaren: Ok, some people say Ron knew it, some say he didn’t, in the end none of us know, it will only be very few people who know this. Whitmarsh knew it and I’m sure he wouldn’t have gone on with it without checking it with Ron.
    I’m sure he knew about it, because that’s the only option unless you say that Ron is a bad manager and doesn’t know what’s going on in his team.
    Wibble, you say that you know Ron and have worked with him, would you say he is a bad manager of his team, oblivious to what is going on?

  3. Sush said on 9th April 2008, 9:05

    I find it odd that Ron Dennis has made several speeches lately in the form that an FIA president would make, the timing coincides with MadMax getting caught with his pants down.

    that and standing down as in his team.  Like he’s getting ready for a brutal takeover of the FIA.

    either I’m bang on the money or i’m a fat geek with too much time on my hands and a wild imagination.

  4. Michael K said on 9th April 2008, 9:12

    "either I’m bang on the money or i’m a fat geek with too much time on my hands and a wild imagination."

    You know, you might be right on both accounts ;-)

  5. Steven Roy said on 9th April 2008, 13:41

    I suggest Green Flag tries some relaxation techniques followed by a bit of rational thought.
    Max despite his best efforts did not prove Ron knew anything.  Read the transcripts there is not a single word proving Ron knew anything was going on.  When Alonso tried to blackmail Ron it was Ron who contacted the FIA and told them that his drivers knew about the Ferrari data.  Don’t you think this is odd behaviour for such a cheat.  If you actually bother to read the transcripts you will see that there is very little evidence the drivers knew much at all.  Just enough for Max to twist it.
    There are five cases of teams being in possession of another team’s data in the public domain.  Toyota had two engineers jailed in Germany because they took Ferrari data with them to Toyota.  Max didn’t  investigate at all.  McLaren were fined $100 million with minimal evidence.  Renault were found with 28 copies of the McLaren info on their servers and hundreds of hits on the files. Vastly more evidence than the FIA had against McLaren but were let off.  Colin Kolles walked through the paddock last year showing all and sundry a Toro Rosso drawing which he claims proved the car was a Red Bull.  He presented this drawing to Max as evidence.  Somehow Max forgot to ask him how he had illegally obtained the drawing.
    Nigel Stepney in an open letter to Max published on grandprix.com stated he was getting McLaren info in return for the Ferrari data he was supplying Mike Coughlan.  Max refused point blank to even investigate this.
    So before you start painting Ron Dennis as the bad guy and Max as the well balanced honourable guy I think you should give us reasonable explanations for the FIA’s actions in these five cases.  This is something Max hasn’t bothered to do.

  6. SURPRISE, SURPRISE…. And at The High Court in London: NOTW  1  x  0  Max Mosley

  7. Arnet, you’ve summarized the Max must go now position far more eloquently than I ever could.
    As for Ron running for FIA president:
    http://www.fastmachines.com/f1/new-candidate-opens-pr-campaign-in-bid-for-fia-presidency/

    And yes, I’m another fat geeky racing fan with too much time on my hands as well.

  8. Green Flag said on 9th April 2008, 17:45

    1. Mosley’s sordid fantasies are his business but he is an utter fool to put himself in a position (pun unintended) to be found out.
    2. The NOTW was out to get him; this exposé was well planned and he was set up.
    3. He’s now an object of ridicule and derision and can no longer do his job as FIA president.
    4. So, why was he set up to be disgraced? Who benefits? Who is revenged for perceived wrongs?
    5. As Mike Lawrence writes in PitPass, follow the money.
    6. Who has lots of money, is well connected and would want revenge on Mosley? It’s not that hard to figure out, is it? And do you really want him in Max’s old job?

  9. Sush said on 9th April 2008, 18:29

    Thanks for the JUMP GeorgeK!, jolly good read while eating my nachos and cheese.

    3 cheers for fat geeky racing fans!.

  10. Rohan said on 9th April 2008, 19:47

    I fail to see how anyone with any semblance of intelligence can think that Max deserves to be sacked because of this. The man has done nothing illegal and in fact the law has been broken by the scum at The News of the World publishing this story, complete with the fiction of Nazism being involved.

    If you want Max to go, let it be because of the engine freeze or the banning of driver aids, but not because of this.

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th April 2008, 20:04

    If you try to argue for something by claiming those who don’t agree with you are unintelligent you automatically weaken your position.

    There are many reasons why people might have misgivings about what these developments have revealed about Mosley’s character.

    Even ignoring the Nazi stuff we still are left wondering whether some of the famously harsh verdicts Mosley has doled out as President of the FIA (McLaren’s fine, Toyota’s ban from rallying) were because he thought they were correct, or because he gets a thrill out of punishing people. Faith in his governance has been irrevocably damaged.

  12. Thanks, GeorgeK. 

    Green Flag. Think Rupert Murdoch, not Ron Dennis. Ron wouldn’t stoop to that level, but Murdoch owns the newspaper being sued by Max, as well as the NOTW. 

    You know what they say, don’t get into a wrestling match with a pig; you’ll just get muddy and the pig will enjoy it.

  13. Chas said on 9th April 2008, 21:24

    Mosley deserves everything he gets. it happens to everyone everywhere and its a great way of bringing us back down to earth, all be it with a thud, when our heads get to big. it will hopefully teach him to be less arrogant idiots and hypocritical.

    "beware the ides of march"

  14. The guys from Grand prix came to arena finally. They have done the two important points in matter:  “1) The latest indication of the impact of Mosley’s adventures came yesterday with US comedian Jon Stewart mocking the FIA President on the hugely successful Daily Show.Jay Leno, another talk show host, described Mosley as "the head of Formula 1 racing" used the story to complain about the strength of the Euro against the dollar, saying that American politicians can only afford one hooker, while in Europe one can get five for the same price.Let us not forget that is the kind of market penetration that F1 would love to have in America.Sadly, the coverage was not positive.

    2) It is perhaps a tragedy in the true meaning of the word: a drama in which the main character is brought to ruin as a consequence of a tragic flaw or a moral weakness.These are sad and distressing times for the sport. They may also be sad and distressing for Mosley, but facing up to the realities is not something that should not be done at the expense of a sport in which are invested the aspirations and passions of millions across the world.By not resigning Mosley has left himself open to the charge that HE CARES NOTHING FOR THE SPORT.And that is yet another reason why he must resign.”
    (from grand prix)

  15. Someone elsewhere also pointed out Murdoch’s reason for sacking Max may have more to do with ITV losing the broadcast rights than Martin Brundle getting sued.

    In my heart of hearts I hope Murdoch did it for the sheer joy of watching Max suffer, but it’s usually about money or wounded ego.

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