If Mosley was hoping his latest broadside against the F1 teams would goad FOTA into reviving their threat of a breakaway championship, it didn’t work. So he took matters into his own hands, writing to FIA members to warn them:
No doubt we face a difficult period. This may well result in short-term problems in Formula 1. It is possible that FOTA will set up an independent series.
This is a desperate last throw of the dice which Mosley hopes will offer him a means of clinging onto his presidency.
FOTA hasn’t responded directly but their website contains a transcript of Wednesday’s press conference from which the contentious word “dictator” is conspicuously absent.
Other sources have quoted Luca di Montezemolo describing Mosley using the word, which is apparently one of his major objections, but that is besides the point. Mosley’s willingness to seize on the slightest perceived infraction to rip up the deal reached one Wednesday tells us two things:
One, he is not happy with the deal (and his claims he was planning to step down in October are, of course, nonsense). And two, he will do anything he can to undermine it.
What does stand out in the FOTA transcript is this remark from Toyota’s John Howett:
The federation is an independent body with its own constitution, and it will be their business who they elect as the future successor to their president.
Mosley’s claim the manufacturers do not intend to respect this independence directly contradicts what Howett said:
Member clubs of the FIA from all over the world have made it clear that they will never allow the car industry to decide who may and who may not be president of the FIA.
Claiming he must remain in office in order to resist a threat to the FIA is a typical Mosley tactic, one he returns to when his position is threatened. He resorted to similar claims about Formula One Group when striving to win a vote of confidence during the sadomasochism scandal last year.
Mosley’s over-reaction is beyond unreasonable. It is an utterly transparent attempt to cling to power on the flimsiest pretext.
He has fatally underestimated Luca di Montezemolo – and Mosley also failed to appreciate that his belligerent style has galvanised the teams into an unprecedented display of unity. Yet he is still trying to drive a wedge between them:
We have heard a lot from FOTA about an independent court of appeal. Yet during the controversy over the “double diffuser”, a manufacturer team repeatedly lobbied me (wholly improperly) to intervene with the FIA Court of Appeal and have the double diffuser declared illegal. The FIA Court would never listen to such an approach but it shows that for the team in question, “independent” means independent of the other teams and under the control of particular interests.
Having cowed him into submission once, what makes Mosley think he can get a different result a second time?
Perhaps tellingly, FOTA and Bernie Ecclestone have not yet responded. The worst thing, for a man used to being feared, is to find himself ignored.