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Lunch with Max Mosley…a busy year ahead
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Lunch with Max Mosley…a busy year ahead
Posted By:   |  04 Feb 2009   |  5:08 pm GMT  |  9 comments

Today I went along to a lunch thrown by Max Mosley for a small group of journalists at the Poissonerie de l’Avenue, in South Kensington, London.

The talk was, predictably, about the need for urgent cost cuts, the medals system, prospects for the season ahead, the future of the British Grand Prix, evidence of who set him up in last year’s sex scandal and his own future.

On this last point I got the clear impression that he intends to stay on for another term. He has to make his decision by June and as he explained, they have a complicated system whereby prospective candidates have to draw up a list of people for the key jobs. This is a system he initiated in 2005 as it would give him early warning of anyone plotting to stand against him. Wily old fox.

Anyway as he talked about it and was saying that he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to do it all again, he made it clear that all the key people want him to run for another term.

I would have thought that he is most unlikely to walk away from the job now as the next three years are absolutely critical to the future of F1, with the Formula One Teams Association providing a strong united front for the first time ever and Bernie Ecclestone and CVC very anxious to get everyone signed up beyond 2012 to protect their income stream.

In 2010 costs will really come down

Mosley: In 2010 costs will really come down

He looked very fit and full of energy, much more so than at times last year. He’s going deaf, though and clearly had problems hearing some of the questions. He wasn’t playing for thinking time by asking for a repeat, he was genuinely straining to hear. As always he was bitingly sardonic in some of his answers and particularly scathing about the stories put about last week that former RBS chief exec Sir Fred Goodwin might stand for FIA president this summer.

On cost cutting and the rules for 2010, he was very firm. He said the target is to get budget right down, as I wrote in my posting on Honda this morning, to around £50 million. He added that it is regrettable that people will have to lose their jobs in that process, but F1 teams are not in the social service business, employing people for the sake of it. To get budgets down from £300 million to under £100 million cannot be achieved by continuing to employ 1000 people in a team.

He wants to see costs come down so much that a team can run for £50 million and be competitive. He feels that the boards of the main car companies are keen to see costs brought down dramatically and that it needs the FIA to do this because the people who manage the teams on behalf of the manufacturers would not go far enough fast enough.

What he did not say, but I have gleaned privately, is that the FIA has a package to present to FOTA of areas of non-compete, which are very extensive, along the lines I wrote about in my Honda story this morning. Ideally the FIA would like FOTA’s agreement on this package, but they do have the option of ramming it through the world council in March or June under the force majeur rule – in other words arguing that the situation is so desperate in the motor industry that these measures must be taken now or else the whole survival of F1 will be threatened. That will be a major flash point with FOTA.

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9 Comments
  1. john g says:

    is it just me that thinks a non-technical person should not be involved in deciding the technical rules of a sport?

    for example, moveable aero. a very complex solution to a very easy problem. slipstreaming was par for the course with older non-downforce cars, because without wings you aren’t reliant on aero. as soon as you have downforce, it’s a disadvantage following another car, instead of an advantage, which is what you need for good racing. if moveable flaps have already been slated to fail for this year, why would going further with the idea change anything?

    and why is max saying that electrical KERS systems are not suitable for F1 when several manufacturers have opted for this solution as the best choice? also, to give this as one of the few areas initally available for future performance differentiation, then to propose standardised systems after everyone has gone off and put money into research of their own systems…

  2. KT530 says:

    A nice insight there James, but what did Mr Mosley have for lunch…?

  3. rpaco says:

    I have to agree with john g that [non-technical person should not be involved in deciding the technical rules of a sport?] (The same rules go pro-rata for race stewards)

    However aero will probably not be banned as he hints he wishes. But movable aero can make an enormous difference, allowing slipstreaming (assuming the leading car had its rear wing lowered to reduce drag). The movable elements could then be used to assist braking by increasing both drag and grip.
    (I will admit that it will take lots more money to make flaps that wont fall off, but then a lot of aeroplanes manage it)

    Electrical KERS is more likely to translate onto road cars than mechanical, obviously in a much modified form, it would be a pity if Max used his influence to knock this development on the head AFTER so much money has already been spent on it. It would also be a great mistake to stop brake system development. (there look I never mentioned abs!)

    A major part of the necessary funding for Donnington is to pay Bernie, who may come back in the autumn and say “No I dont like it.” (The local planning committee have already said it lacks ambition and foresight)

    I was surprised that Max said that the FIA had a duty to preserve classic races, since Bernie obviously thinks the venues are entirely his to bless or reject.

    Ok James what was the bill? Who had a starter AND a sweet? Who ordered the most expensive dish? Did Max pay or the FIA?
    Whilst the post may be unpaid is it on full expenses?

  4. speedmerchants says:

    JA writes: Well, seeing as you asked, KT530 (sounds like a type of motorbike) … Max had some scallops in breadcrumbs with tartare sauce. He only ever eats a starter at these lunches, never drinks wine, waves away the main course and the dessert and finishes off with an espresso.

    As for the comment about him being a non-technical person, I have to say that he has Peter Wright (ex Lotus engineer) and Tony Purnell working behind the scenes as technical consultants and don’t forget that Charlie Whiting is in the office next door to Max in Monaco.

    Many of these ideas are theirs and the notion of non-compete areas, which I think is the answer to cost containment (as long as it doesn’t go too far) was Purnell’s idea.

  5. Tomys says:

    Force India is building its own chassis, you probably ment Toro Rosso and Super Aguri. By departure of later customer chassis affect only Toro Rosso :-)

  6. john g says:

    A recent article in Autosport, an interview with Max Mosley about KERS, re-enforces my feelings about him. here is a quote:

    Q. Mario Theissen said at the BMW Sauber launch that he felt the flywheel system had no application for the road car industry, and said he wasn’t interested…

    MM: Well, he probably hasn’t thought it through. He would be right if there were battery/super capacitor combinations that were very close to being practical – but all the information is that there isn’t. All these cars – you get these electric cars but if you drive them fast they just don’t have the energy. Good old Mario, but I think he may have got that wrong.

    So max knows more about road cars than Mario Theissen? OK…

    he also admits that it’s the FIA’s regulations that have forced teams to spend vast amounts of money chasing diminishing returns in areas unimportant outside of the sport (and with a ban on engine development i can’t see how that isn’t continuing) and also that the regulations for this year are wrong with regard to tyre widths.

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/73208

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