Ten questions on the Mosley scandal

Max Mosley’s win in the FIA confidence vote leaves F1 in an odd situation. The president of its regulatory body is an international laughing stock, and yet somehow the sport has to find a way to go on.

How did Mosley win the vote – and what will happen next? Here are some of my thoughts, please leave yours in the comments below.

What exactly happened at the meeting? We’ve become used to seeing FIA meetings drag on into the evening. The hearing into the ‘cool fuel’ row at the end of last season took several days.

This meeting was quite different. It began at 10am French time and within three hours the vote was publically known. In that period of time they also reached a decision on a rules modification concerning bridge wings on F1 cars as well as going through the usual bureauratic motions.

We also know that Anthony Scrivener QC, the FIA-appointed lawyer, gave his verdict on the News of the World’s video and, unsurprisingly, concurred absolutely with Mosley’s argument that there was no ‘Nazi’ element to the proceedings. Given the tight timings involved, it is hard to imagine very much of a debate went on, and it is clear from past meetings of the World Motor Sports Council for which we have transcripts that Mosley likes to move things along as speedily as possible.

Will the transcript of the FIA Extraordinary Meeting be made available to the public? Recent major FIA meetings have been documented and those transcripts pulished soon after the meeting. It is not yet clear whether that will happen this time.

How did the British representatives vote? Of particular interest to British fans is how their own clubs voted. One of the voting British clubs, the Motor Sports Association, issued a brief release afterwards:

The Motor Sports Association respects the decision of the FIA General Assembly concerning President Mosley and considers that it is now time to move on and for the sport to pull together. The Motor Sports Association looks forward to continuing to work constructively as an important member of the FIA in the future.

This has inevitably led to speculation about whether they voted for or against Mosley. I wonder if their eagerness to appear willing to work with the FIA following the vote is a sign of how desperate they are to keep the under-threat British Grand Prix?

How did Mosley win the vote? As was anticipated beforehand, the majority of Mosley’s support came from the smaller motoring clubs. Despite the far smaller total proportion of motorists they represent, each had voting rights of similar weight to the larger clubs, most of which were opposed to Mosley.

Is the FIA a ‘democracy’? Various figures describing the relative sizes have been put about but it seems that the larger clubs, who claim to represent around 85% of all motorists, accounted for 13% of the vote. They may consider that disparity a sign that the FIA under-represents the larger clubs.

Mosley’s counter to that position is that to distribute voting rights according to member size would lead to the larger clubs dominating the FIA. Of course, on this occasion, this has suited him perfectly, about which there is inevitably a degree of cynicism.

Is everything going to go back to normal now? It’s hard to see how. Already one motoring club, Germany’s ADAC, has announced it is dramatically reducing its co-operation with the FIA until Mosley is gone.

Many public statements have been made by prominent groups and individuals demanding Mosley step down and it is hard to see how they can step back from those positions and accept the status quo. As Bernie Ecclestone said:

It’s going to be difficult for him to act as a president of the FIA if the people who said before that they don’t want to meet with him maintain that position.

The American Automobile Association and other motor clubs who publicly demanded Mosley’s resignation are understood to be considering similar action to ADAC.

Will sponsors and teams pull out? It’s doubtful that any major decision like this would happen immediately – more likely that the exact impact will not be known for some time.

But any sponsor or manufacturer that is considering withdrawing its investment in F1 now has the perfect excuse to pull the plug, but as deals in F1 tend to be long-term arrangements it may not happen overnight.

Will the anti-Mosley clubs pull or lose their races? It has been speculated that the withdrawal of clubs such as the ADAC from the FIA could compromise the future holding of races. The ADAC runs the Nurburgring round which alternates years with the German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring, which is run by a different club.

Other countries whose motoring clubs were signatories to the letter asking Mosley to resign included Grand Prix hosts Canada, Brazil, Hungary, Spain, Belgium, Singapore and France, plus future hosts India and former hosts the United States, whose event is rumoured to be making a return next year.

What if Mosley loses his court case against the News of the World? Much of the suppot of Mosley has been based on the assumption that the ‘Nazi’ claims made against him were false and that his privacy was unjustly invaded by the News of the World. That is currently the subject of a court case brought by Mosley. However we know that his reliance on the same defence formed part of his argument in the meeting…

What next for Mosley? Since the scandal broke we have seen or heard talk of how principal figures in motor racing are keeping Mosley away from them: from the Crown Prince of Bahrain to Prince Albert of Monaco. If that continues, it will furthe undermine his claim that he can do his job properly.

Another acid test will be the next time he comes to rule on a major controversy. Should he consider it appropriate to deal out a substantial punishment as he did to McLaren last year, there will inevitably be questions asked about whether he thought they need “more of the punishment”, as the line from the infamous video goes.

Only then, I suspect, will it become clear that Mosley has turned F1 into a laughing stock, and that he and, by association, Formula 1, has been reduced to a mere punchline.

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36 comments on Ten questions on the Mosley scandal

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  1. Ago said on 4th June 2008, 0:32

    Hi Keith

    The WMSC and the ICA are Courts, it is normal that debates are published, everybody must know how a Court judged a case. This always happen in a democracy.

    The GA is not a Court, it is the governing body of an organisation. There will probably be a transcript it will not talk about the vote as this was not subject to a debate (read the agenda)

    “How did Mosley win the vote?” That has only one answer and a very simple one: More people voted for him that against him -61% for/39% against. The rest is futile.

    “the majority of the support came from the smaller clubs” that is such an unfair and totally biaised statement because even he he lost the majority would have come fron the same “smaller clubs” because THEY ARE the majority.

    “Is the FIA a democraty” Nobody is forced to join the FIA, but all members must accept to go by the rules, that is the case in any organisation. Of course the GA, as the body of the organisation can change the rules. Did anybody asked to change the rules? It will have been very surprising to change the rules just before a vote anyway

    Mosley did not decide how the vote was going to happen it is described in the Statutes of the FIA.

    It was a secret vote in a democratic organisation.
    Secret vote as you know is the only good way to vote as each of the voters is not submitted to ANY influence. Would you vote if somebody was looking over your shoulder? Would you consider this as normal?

    A democraty is defined (amongst other things) by “one man, one vote” each club had one vote, two if they were representing Mobility and Sporting. Are you suggesting only the “big” organisation should vote? Can’t you guess what will happen then? Is it your idea of a “fair” organisation?

    Now:
    - either you challenge the democraty inside the FIA and in this case no matter what the result is. It is what you are saying?

    - or you challenge the result of a democratic vote and this is anti-democratic. Are you anti-democratic?

    Last: the dutch, and my grand-mother can say what they want nobody knows who voted for and who voted against. Have you any SERIOUS information about the vote being “corrupted”? Are you sure none of the big clubs voted for Mosley?

    Would you like your country to be ruled like the FIA is (one man, one vote, secret ballot) or like some are suggesting the FIA should be run?

    You are not happy with the vote? I can understand that!
    Well we all have to live with the result of an election not going the way we would have loved it to go (That’s what Hilary Clinton was telling me a few minuts ago)

    Now imho the real question are:
    - Does the president of the FIA has too much power? If yes what should be done to stop that? Because after Mosley there will be another one… Nobody seems to worry about that. Can we afford to have a new Mosley?

    -Is the FIA the proper organisation to organise F1?
    Maybe you could write a couple of articles on these subjects…

  2. What next for Mosley? He will no doubt take his vote of confidence and have himself appointed FIA president for life.

    Someone needs to spike this ******** career and soon.

  3. Gman said on 4th June 2008, 4:30

    Very interesting set of questions- in any event, I think the scandal is far from over.

    - On the issue of sponsorship, perhaps some businesses may think a bit about this, but in the end the massive global exposure granted by the sport will, in the end, prove attractive enough to override concerns about the after-effects of the Mosley scandal.

    - Will some nations lose their race? I don’t know how much of a say Max and the FIA have in scheduling GPs, so I can’t comment much here. While I don’t expect these efforts to have any impact on the schedule anyway, I cna see groups opposed to holding GPS at certain location-environmentalists at Melbourne, perhaps- using the scandal as ammo in their PR campaigns.

    Hopefully the transcripts will indeed be made public, and will not disapeer into history before the motor racing faithful have a chance to explore them.

  4. peterg said on 4th June 2008, 4:35

    Consummate politician or shrewd player? I suspect the later, Max must have been confidant of the arcane, if not dysfunctional, democracy that is the FIA & his position in it.

    “…..some suggested that Mosley’s success had been due to his ability to mobilise support among the sporting federations, whose votes were enough to outnumber those of the non-sporting motor clubs”..The Times

    Clearly his strangle hold on the sporting clubs was sufficient to win the two thirds of the vote. Motoring organisations like the AAA must surely question whether they will want to be associated with the FIA.

    However, I see this as a turning point for F1 in particular – other series like WRC, DTM etc, who knows? Commercial interests from sponsors & manufacturers will come into account. Regardless of the letters of protest lodged by the manufactures when this scandal broke, it was not that long ago that these very same auto’s were threatening to go it alone as the GPMA due to their dissatisfaction with F1, that being Bernie commercial control & Max’s regulatory FIA.

    This time around it may well be the manufacturers breaking away, BUT, with Bernie along side. The battle lines are drawn between Max & Bernie, there can be no reconciliation now. Further, it’s in Max’s nature to go after Bernie in retaliation for his perceived disloyalty in this matter. Max wont lash out publicly, he is far too smart for that, rather, he will initiate a stealth like “death by a thousand cuts” at the commercial rights holder. Bernie can look forward to a future of hostility from the governing body & no support from within it. Jealousy of Bernie’s commercial success will be a powerful tool to be used against him. And what of those brave nations who only a few days ago inked their names to a demand for him to step down? The bully must surely bring them to heal, if to prove nothing else than his status & the price of speaking out.

    One thing is certain, Bernie is not going to just stand there & tolerate a concerted action against all that he has built, he may ally with the teams & lead a break-away, promising riches for all. This would be highly attractive to the teams, imagine sharing in a new F1′s prosperity & being able to off set your running costs through profit participation, let alone having a say in the sporting regulation. Our jests over the years about Ferrari ending up having the series to themselves may become a reality.

    While I have harped on over the years about the amount of power Max has, notwithstanding his abuse of said power, I am totally dumbstruck at how entrenched/enshrined he really is. The FIA as an organisation is rotten to the core if two thirds of it’s membership can vote in favour a matter that was almost universally denounced from all quarters.

    If power corrupts, then absolute power corrupts absolutely. Congratulation’s to Mr Mosley, he has damaged the very bed rock of the sport he purports to love. Worse, my own deep love of F1 has not been shaken enough for me to turn my back on it, as I still intend to actively follow the series despite his involvement…………& for that I must hang my own head in shame.

    Let’s hope that today is the first step in a new beginning & direction for F1, even with Max’s future resignation, the pinnacle of motorsport will still have disassociate itself with the totally inappropriate governing body that is the FIA

  5. the limit said on 4th June 2008, 4:40

    What I have feared for many weeks has happened, has been realised today with this decision. The FIA were given a golden opportunity today to draw a line under this and move on, move Formula One on.
    Certain elements within chose not to. Could it be that they don’t want Mosley, out in public, spilling the beans on the inner workings of the FIA?
    This he would have been almost certain to do today if events had conspired against him. Now we know why so many people within the sport (i.e the teams) kept so quiet publically these last months! They knew the score.
    I suppose the bean counters decided that, as Mosley has only another year to run as president, better to let him run out his term, than to have an agrieved ex president roaming around with a loose tongue and an axe to grind.
    I have to say that I am very disappointed, but not overly surprised. The last thing I wanted, as a fan, was for this year’s championship to be overshadowed by yet another scandal. Today’s vote has ensured that it will be.
    As for the future of the sport, that again rests on the all powerful shoulders of the FIA. Today was not their finest hour.

  6. I think Bernie has more say on where the races will be held than Max so I do not see any danger of Canada, Nurburgring, Hungary, Belgium etc loosing races.

    I wonder are how Bernie and Mosley are going to work together (or not) and how is Mosley actually going to run the FIA now …

  7. Sush said on 4th June 2008, 7:43

    Mosley doesn’t get paid for being FIA president right?.
    why would someone desperatly want to cling onto power like that?.

    I find it arrogant of him to think “only” he can stop FOG taking over the FIA, as he puts it, if that is true….. then his abilities as president are truly poor, not being able to teach others to take over duties?

  8. Ago said on 4th June 2008, 7:47

    I can read here very interesting comments on the future of the sport! I think that I could be a good opportunity the recreate the FISA a body entirely dedicated to the sport. this body should be designed like all other sporting federations to be sure F1 remains a sport and not a business. This organisation might then join, or not, the FIA. I don’t think it is good to have Bernie running the business it should be somebody else… but again people are not very important, what is really important is the organisation, de way it makes decisions the overall goal of this organisation, and how the statutes ensure that the organisation cannot be perverted and keeps focus on the sport not on business…

  9. Maybe we should put Keith in charge of the new governing body. He seems to know what he’s talking about.

  10. Sush said on 4th June 2008, 7:57

    Alex, cracking idea, lets set up the voting system now.

    anyone who opposes Keith will be null and void, all in favour…. a pint.

  11. DG said on 4th June 2008, 8:39

    I was very surprised at how quickly the voting took place, and in a meeting discussing other important topics as well. Is this the true face of how the FIA can operate when making decisions, and all these previous 3 day long sessions have just been ‘all boys together’?
    As for it being good if Bernie and the Manufacturers break away together, the last Concorde Agreement went nowhere as Bernie isn’t sharing his profits and TV rights with the Teams at the moment, so what guarantee is there that he would in the future?
    The FIA being democratic? It depends on how you define democracy – is it one member one vote or proportional representation? This is an arguement regularly occuring in UK politics, so I don’t have any problems with it happening within the FIA too.
    Bernies last statement to the press was that Max had hinted that if he stays until 2009, he may feel confident enough to stand for another period of office. This could be seen as a threat coming from the old Max/Bernie partnership, or it could be the wishful thinking of an old collegue seeing his friend in danger.
    If Max does stand for re-election, the various opponents within the FIA need to find a credible person to stand against him, and need to arrange their strategy starting now, otherwise it will prove that nobody in Motorsport is in a position to stop the Max and Bernie Show.
    I think Max will win the court case, and it will be interesting to see where the damages he wins go to. If he is a true sportsman, they should end up in the ‘Race against Racism’ pot.
    And if we are talking about Motorsport organisations, are we certain that they even bother to listen to their members or the public in general? The MSA kept very quiet and showed ‘respect’, but most fans seem to be appalled at what is going on. ADAC and the AAA are threating to leave the FIA, but are they going to canvas their members about it first? If you want democracy in World Motorsport, it has to start at ground level, otherwise it isn’t democracy at all….

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th June 2008, 9:36

    For those wondering what went on in the meeting The Times’ leader offers some answers (emphasis added):

    A lawyer offered evidence that appeared to support him and there were no questions. A secret ballot followed which he won.

    No questions? Was that because no-one had anything to ask (which seems hard to believe) or because they weren’t allowed to ask anything?

  13. Michael K said on 4th June 2008, 9:51

    Well, Ago, in your argument for the FIA voting system you contradict yourself in the point that you use “one man, one vote” as the reason why the FIA system is just.
    You can use the same argument to say that each member of the associations has an equal and therefore they voting system should weighted, which is what happens in most democracies in one way or another.
    You say that it is ok for a member of the motoring association of AUTOMOVIL CLUB DE GUATEMALA to have at least a 100-1000 times the voting power of a member of the AAA or ADAC. I don’t know exactly how many members they have, but I expect it to be some minimal amount compared to the larger organisations. Ah, and their contact is: autoclubguatemala@yahoo.com
    Sounds professional, doesn’t it? This is just one example of how ridiculous it is that a club like this has the same voting power like a “real” organisation.
    As Journeyer said, a weighted system would be the only fair way to resolve this, anything else is just plain ridiculous…
    One man, one vote; one Guatemalan, one thousand votes.

  14. Journeyer said on 4th June 2008, 9:53

    South Africa’s AASA joins Germany’s ADAC, the Netherlands’ NWB, and the US’ AAA in publicly distancing itself from the FIA.

    http://www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_news_item.php?fes_art_id=34987

    So who else is joining this? Hmmmm.

  15. Architrion said on 4th June 2008, 10:49

    Is it coming the time when Jean Marie Balestre is going to be miseed? I hope that day never comes, but this way it doesn’t seem too far away….

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