Max Mosley and the art of distraction

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

The 2007 spying controversy has been brought up again
The 2007 spying controversy has been brought up again

Steven Roy reckons the fuss over ‘medals’ is just a big distraction:

I have come to the conclusion that it is a grand deception. There is a technique in business where you take a small problem and make it a big problem. Then solve the big problem using the extra resources you have been given due to the size of the problem. Here I think we have the opposite situation. Bernie and Max did not want us to be complaining about KERS, the new cars, the business climate or Max?s imminent re-elction so they fed us a line and we bit. We have spent weeks discussing a medals system that no-one ever intended to introduce and giving them an easy ride on more important issues.

So what are the more important issues? Let’s take a look at some of the other stories that have emerged in the past week:

Cost cutting

Max Mosley is pushing for deep cost cuts, slashing budgets to ??50m per team. What’s more, according to James Allen, Mosley is prepared to force new regulations through without the support of the teams to achieve it. He has already begun making the legal case for it:

We are, how shall I put it, in a situation of force majeure […] Anybody can go to court and dispute it, but I cannot see a judge saying you are completely wrong, you should allow these people to go bankrupt, and what on earth are you doing?”


Mosley made an interesting remark when he revealed that Nigel Stepney and Mike Coughlan – two technicians at the heart of the 2007 Ferrari-McLaren spying controversy – were to be allowed to work in F1 again:

It does seem a little bit mad to make them serve out even longer when the two teams concerned are all making love to each other. So, we have said we will let them forget it.

This remark seems to be aimed at undermining the much improved relations between Ferrari and McLaren.

Ban lifted on Stepney and Coughlan


Having said in 2008 he would not stand for re-election this year, Mosley has predictably gone back on his word. Now he is saying that he wishes to solve the sport’s major problems before handing over to someone else.

The implication is that if the teams accept his latest demands on cost-cutting he will step down. Of course, there’s no more reason to take him at his word now than there was last year. As Too Good said:

Once elected he will forget about all these initiatives till next elections, and go on his implementing his own whims till next election time. And wait somewhere mid-term he will definitely give public a false hope by public statements about walking into the sunset.

Old trick of old dog. This time around what that has accomplished is FOTA on his side and Bernie against him, things will change once he gets new term

Meanwhile Jean Todt, perhaps the only man who could be an even less popular choice of president than Mosley, has stepped down from the World Motor Sport Council. Perhaps he has some campaigning to do and wishes to avoid a conflict of interest.

Support for traditional Grands Prix

The FIA may act to support the British Grand Prix
The FIA may act to support the British Grand Prix

Although Mosley has said he can’t encourage Bernie Ecclestone to reduce his prices for traditional rounds on the F1 calendar, he has suggested offering support to sporting bodies in six specific countries if they’re having trouble preparing for their Grands Prix:

The traditional [races] were the six that were in the championship in 1950 and have been there ever since: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Monaco and Belgium. But so far, there has never been an ASN coming to us saying we have got a problem, so if they do then we will have to look at it.

Is this a sincere attempt to support F1’s racing heartland – or a cynical ploy to ensure votes come election time?

Superlicence row

The drivers have taken issue with Mosley’s demand that they pay an increased superlicence fee. He has been trying to get them to reveal details of their salaries which the drivers have, of course, refused to do.

Mosley argues: “It would be fairer if the superlicence fee was based on earnings.” But the drivers no doubt suspect that if they provide him with details of how much money they’re earning, he will use it to impose a salary cap.

A salary cap seems a waste of time when the majority of drivers need to re-sign their contracts this year anyway. Only Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa have signed deals for 2010. If the teams wish to pay their drivers less, they can offer them less.

Number of entries

Bruno Senna testing for Honda at the end of 2008
Bruno Senna testing for Honda at the end of 2008

Mosley optimistically puts the former Honda team’s chances of making the 2009 season at 70%. If they don’t, F1 will be down to just 18 cars on the starting grid for the first race, the lowest number in over three decades.

Even more optimistically, Mosley expects there to be 24 cars on the grid in 2010. There would have been that many last year, had he managed to get regulations allowing customer cars passed, but he failed.


Mosley has also revealed he knows who informed the News of the World about his now infamous sadomasochism sessions with prostitutes.

According to Mosley, the person involved works in F1, their identity will be revealed, and it may come with sporting sanctions.

Sting culprit works in F1 – Mosley

Diffuser controversy

The Williams and Toyota diffusers are legal, according to Mosley. Or perhaps not. Here’s the FIA’s typically contradictory explanation:

The current FIA view is that Williams and Toyota have been clever and have exploited the wording of the rules in a clever way. But somebody may challenge it and the stewards may take a different view – it could happen.

Over to you…

Do you think the medals debate was a distraction to keep people’s minds off more important matters facing F1? What do you think is the most important problem facing F1 at the moment?