Mosley makes lurid new claims in desperate bid to stay in power

Max Mosley, Red Bull, 2006, 2, 470150

Max Mosley has written to the presidents of the FIA motor sport clubs around the world in a new attempt to press his case and avoid a motion of no confidence in him at the Emergency General Meeting on June 3rd. Grandprix.com claims to have seen the letter and has published a portion, describing the contents as “explosive”.

In it, Mosley argues he should not be voted out of office because Formula One Group (which controls the commercial side of the sport) is trying to take control of the sport’s regulations away from the FIA. He even suggests the News of the World received the tip-off about his involvement in sadomasochistic sex orgies from someone who wanted to get rid of him and influence the negotiations.

What are we to make of these bizarre new claims?

(Update: download the letter in full here)

What Mosley claims

His letter to the clubs has not been printed in full but the portions that have make fascinating reading. To summarise:

  • Mosley claims to have received letters from members with a total of 75 votes in the FIA General Assembly (the FIA’s supreme body), 62 supporting him and 13 against*.
  • Mosley says Formula One Group wishes to change two terms of its ownership of F1: one financial (presumably costing the FIA money), the other giving it greater control over F1’s regulations, which is currently the FIA’s prerogative.
  • Mosley believes the News of the World were tipped off by someone who wanted to get rid of Mosley and disadvantage the FIA in those negotiations.
  • Therefore, Mosley concludes, he should not be voted out of office, because the FIA needs him to combat this move by Formula One Group. He added he still intends to step down in 2009 anyway.

*There is a typographical error in this part of the original story but this seems likely to be the correct interpretation.

How much support is there for Max Mosley?

Assuming the letters Mosley claims to have received are both real and truthful, we should still not jump to the conclusion that he has majority support. He claims to have received indication of how 85 votes will be cast from a total of 222.

However those supporting him are more likely to write and pledge their backing because that way they might guarantee concessions for themselves in the future should he remain in office. But those who do not support him have little to gain by condemning him – they can just let their vote do the talking when the time comes.

Mosley wants the debate on his terms

As has been noted earlier here, Mosley is trying to make this debate about the parts of the argument he thinks he can win. His first line of attack was to deny the alleged Nazi connotations and the FIA has now appointed a lawyer (Anthony Scrivener QC) specifically to report on whether those aspects of the allegations are true.

Mosley does not want a debate about whether a man with a sexual appetite for injuring and humiliating people (regardless of any claimed ‘Nazi’ leanings) should hold an office of such responsibility. An office from which extremely strong verdicts have been handed down, not least in the recent past.

His earlier claim he would step down in 2009 is almost an attempt at a compromise: “Don’t throw me out now, I’ll throw myself out later.”

Mosley is a politician of great skill and he understands that, as Otto von Bismarck said, “politics is the art of the possible.”

He cannot convince the motor sport clubs that footage of him in a five-hour sadomasochistic orgy did not damage the FIA’s reputation – but he might be able to convince them the Nazi angle is fake.

He doubts he can convince them to let him stay indefinitely – but he fancies his chances of getting them to let him stay on until 2009 with, as he says, “almost all public representation of the FIA [left] to the two Deputy Presidents.” Of course, if he does get to stay on until 2009 then who’s to say he won’t have another change of heart as he did when he decided to resign in 2004, and stay on a little while longer?

Is his Formula One Group claim serious?

Bernie Ecclestone, Silverstone, 2007, 470313

According to Mosley Formula One Group is trying to re-negotiate the terms of the commercial rights to the sport which the FIA sold to it for a period of 100 years.

He goes on to argue that if he were elected out of office these negotiations could be delayed or halted by the wait for a new FIA president to be appointed.

This surprising claim raises several questions, not least:

  • How are Formula One Group able to demand changes to the contract? Had Mosley allowed them to re-negotiate their terms? And if so, when did he make that decision?
  • Why would it matter if the talks were delayed? Is the FIA working to a time limit on these proposed changes? If so, why hadn’t that emerged sooner? (Under the FIA statues were Mosley to resign an election would have to be called within two to four months of his resignation).
  • Who is demanding the changes to the terms? Is it Bernie Ecclestone, CVC Group, or both?
  • The European Union told the FIA it was not allowed to be both the commercial rights holders and the regulators of F1. What makes Formula One Group think that if they were both the commercial rights holders and the regulators of the sport they would not also be investigated by the EU?

It seems to me that it’s very convenient of Mosley to suddenly come out with this new reason for why he should remain in power. Why has it only come out now? Might it be because the news of Mosley being snubbed by Prince Albert of Monaco broke today?

Also, given his closeness to Ecclestone, we cannot rule out the possibility it might be a stunt co-ordinated by the pair of them to keep Mosley in office a little while longer.

Are his conspiracy theory claims serious?

Mosley’s claim that someone trying to undermine the negotiations by tipping off the tabloid press about his fondness for whipping prostitutes is surely the most astonishing part of his letter.

As mentioned earlier the Czech Republic’s World Motor Sports Council representative Radovan Novak recently withdrew his suggestion that McLaren boss Ron Dennis might have played a role in the scandal coming to light.

But I am suspicious Mosley has not yet acknowledged another potential source for the expose, even to deny it. The link between the FIA’s lawsuit against the Sunday Times, the fact that the same people who own that newspaper own both the News of the World who ran the story in the first place, and The Times who’ve been pushing it hardest since it broke, has been covered several times on this site.

What happens next?

The EGM is two weeks on Tuesday and it’s likely we’ll hear more claims between now and then. Mosley may well have supporters lined up to leak more titbits about his interesting new version of events.

The News of the World originally claimed it would send the full video tape to the FIA members allowing them to make their own conclusions. It or one of its sister newspapers may well have saved some previously unpublished facts or photographs to release in the days leading up to the meeting.

Whatever happens, I don’t think the FIA will be able to focus on its real business until Max Mosley has left office, this sorry mess can be put behind us, and the work of rebuilding the reputation of F1 and the FIA can begin.

(Update: download the letter in full here)

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58 comments on Mosley makes lurid new claims in desperate bid to stay in power

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  1. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th May 2008, 21:50

    Now that I’ve had the chance to read the letter in full (this article was originally written based on what grandprix.com printed) one thing that stands out is this:

    To do so would be to abandon core elements of our patrimony including, for example, our ability to protect the traditional Grands Prix

    Here he is waving a big, juicy carrot in front of all the European motor sports clubs who have Grands Prix. He might as well just say “vote for me and you can keep your Grand Prix.”

  2. I see this as a ploy worked out with Bernie for Mosley to hold on to his power, and the sad part is I can see it working.

  3. Robert McKay said on 16th May 2008, 22:56

    The FIA is doing such a good job of protecting the European races already, isn’t it Max….?

  4. Green Flag said on 17th May 2008, 1:32

    Max’s claims are not bizarre, Keith, your irrational hatred of Mosley is what’s bizarre. His knowledge and mastery of the FIA and F1′ s politics and machinations far exceed your understanding, Keith, but it’s far easier for you to take cheap potshots at Mosley under the guise of some form “journalistic integrity”, particularly in this largely one-sided forum of mostly like-minded Mosley and Ferrari haters that you’ve created. I come to this blog because I love F1, the cars, technology, drivers, circuits, races and racing. Your overly-critical, hate-mongering blogs are not helpful or useful and contribute nothing to the sport, focusing only on the negative. It’s most disappointing; do try to clean up your act.

  5. Phil B said on 17th May 2008, 2:40

    There are 6 billion people who would rather negotiate the commercial rights deal BEFORE Bernie and CVC. Seriously, they are at the very back of that queue, it was the deal of the century, they’d do it a thousand times over if they could. The arrogance of Max shines through in believing we will swallow this little fabricated crisis.

    I find it interesting that he chose this topic though, perhaps it’s a signal to Bernie: ‘If I don’t get to serve out my term and hand things over to Todt, like we planned, my successor could start digging around in our past and the deals we’ve done’. What would happen to Bernie’s CVC deal if it turns out he didn’t legally have the rights to sell in the first place? Ouch, that would hurt even Bernie’s bank account.

    Green flag, I wonder how differently I would have to view the world to believe it is Keith, rather than Max, that needs to ‘clean up’ their act. Rather differently, I reckon.

    I reckon this is a desperate throw of the dice for Max. He’s threatening Bernie with the biggest stick he has: the biggest deal Bernie ever did, namely the sale of the commercial rights to CVC. It’s a message, loud and clear, get behind Max or it could get very messy. It also forces Bernie’s hand – he has to either go along with this re-negotiation ‘crisis’ line now, and therefore help Max, or openly deny the claim and show his true colours. Max will remember how Bernie stabbed Balestre in the back with his vote of confidence – pretending to round up support while secretly campaigning for Max – and will want to box Bernie in before he can repeat the trick.

    I look forward to the day when my sport isn’t the pawn of this man’s mega ego. Sadly I have this horrible feeling he’s going to make it through the vote.

  6. GF: Hate mongering? Keith has expressed his opinion quite clearly and concisely and given his reasons why he has chosen his particular stance. I think that you would be safe in assuming that the posts in agreement with him reflect the stand that the F1 community in general is taking.

    Max has shamed himself personally, but the real item up for discussion is: is he still fit to represent motorsports internationally? The general consensus seems to be no. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, however, you are in no position to affect, or even influence those that are in the position to make the decisions regarding Max’s future, so defending your position so doggedly has no other affect than shouting into a windstorm. I respect your differing opinions, but insulting someone who does us all such a great service merely attempts to reduce the argument to a pissing match. Let’s try to keep the discussion civil, shall we?

  7. the limit said on 17th May 2008, 3:39

    Well pointed out Keith. I had no knowledge of the Sunday Times link and the News of the World.
    At the end of the day, Max Mosley has made so many enemies within the sport and in the media, that not even Agatha Cristie’s Miss Marple could get to the bottom of it all. Last year, there were so many rumours over the spy scandal, so many personal attacks against Mosley and the FIA, that I do think a conspiracy is highly likely.
    How lucky for the media hacks, to have that room decked out with secret cameras, capturing Mosley’s enjoyment so perfectly, so embarrassingly.
    It smelt from the word go!! However, Mr Mosley has a short memory. He scoffed at suggestions last year that there was an FIA conspiracy against McLaren and Ron Dennis, with the relevent point that they had been caught cheating.
    Conspiracy or not, Max Mosley was caught bent over a table getting spanked by some hot bird wearing kinky gear. If that had been Gordan Brown, he would have been gone the following morning.
    You can’t lead something like the FIA with the opinion of a saint and the morals of a polecat.
    He is in such a huge position of power, with billions of dollars and so many people riding on ‘HIS’ decisions and ‘HIS’ judgement. HE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER!
    Just as McLaren should have done last year.

  8. the limit said on 17th May 2008, 3:48

    Oh, and another thing. When the sex scandal broke in the USA, it caused great amusement amongst the F1 ‘haters’ in the American motorsport media.
    When the subject of F1 came up, the first video I saw was of Mosley’s backside getting spanked, and not an F1 car insite. Now, I know it is good to advertise,but what are they advertising, a Carry On film?
    Carry On Karting perhaps. It was bloody embarrassing to watch a once professional, respected, envied sport like F1 be turned into such a farce because of one man.

  9. Green Flag said on 17th May 2008, 3:52

    Phil B, Arnet – While I respect your opinions, they are based on and colored by Max’s admittedly repugnant, but private, behavior – behavior, that he certainly had no desire to see publicized, a) because it’s deeply embarrassing, and b) because people like you – the holier than thou crowd – would use it against him since you never liked him – probably due to envy, jealousy – in the first place. But like him or not he is the best person to run the FIA during the next difficult year or so, and his so-called “bad” behavior in no way diminishes his managerial and administrative talents. I truly hope he survives the upcoming vote a) because he’s still the best man for the job and b) it will stick your collective craws.

  10. William Wilgus said on 17th May 2008, 4:04

    I certainly could be wrong, but I don’t think Max is in Kansas anymore (refering to the line from The Wizard of Oz).

  11. Gman said on 17th May 2008, 5:49

    Green Flag, I don’t know how long you’ve been posting here, but I’ve found plenty of Ferrari fans on this blog in the 5 months since i’ve been following it. For many obvious reasons I will not mention their exact posting names, but just follow the replies on most any post for a bit of time and you’ll identify many of them.

    Secondly, I don’t think anything Keith has written here is biased one way or another- it just lays out the facts and the possible outcomes.

    My only question for you, Green Flag, is why is it so important for Max to stay in office for the next year or so? If F1, the FIA, and motorsports in general are facing some sort of major challenge, shoulden’t he be there to see it through the tough times that could come up after 2009?

  12. Abhishek said on 17th May 2008, 8:26

    Are sport lovers really bothered by nuances like Mosley scandal etc. that they stop following it, don’t turn up for races, ask their friends and family not to follow it, etc. Bad name sometimes gives good publicity and people turn their head around and follow it and sometimes it can give sport new audience. Although i am against farce i.e. Mosley and would like to see him out of this sport, but i truly admire whatever good he has done to this sport.

  13. Sush said on 17th May 2008, 9:38

    Green Flag, I feel the opposite about Keith, he’s created articles that are completly unbiased. Although this one is slightly one sided.

    Keith, fancy doing an article on Ron Dennis’ nature and him being a control freak, should spice things up a bit.

  14. Sush said on 17th May 2008, 10:09

    Alan made a valid point on the previous Mosley article, will the sponsors leave if Mosley stays?.

    the Magma deal fell through for Aguri shortly after the scandal broke….

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