Bernie Ecclestone has come out with the strongest indication yet that his old friend and colleague Max Mosley is in the final months of his FIA presidency and will stand down.
Speaking to his favourite journalist, Ed Gorman in the Times, the same paper to which he gave the fateful ‘Hitler got things done’ interview, Ecclestone says that Mosley will follow through on his promise when his current term is up in October,
“I have no doubt in my mind, as long as I’ve known Max, he’s always done what he said he would do. He’s an honourable person. I’ve always said Max can have a cheque signed by me, without any name or amount on it, because he’s a trustworthy guy. So I have no doubt that he will honour all the things he’s ever said he will do.”
Ecclestone also underlined the reasons for Mosley’s change of heart after the peace deal was agreed in Paris on June 24th; his pride was hurt by the Ferrari president painting himself as the knight who slayed the dragon,
“He was a bit upset after agreements had been made to be quiet and not throw stones at each other, and then remarks were made which upset him.”
The problem, as pretty much everyone close to the situation agrees, is that egos caused the situation to flare up again, which was always a risk. But behind the scenes the businessmen have had enough of egos and are pushing hard for resolution. The current situation is hurting everyone. Ross Brawn was saying yesterday that they have sponsor deals ready to go but cannot get them to commit at the moment because they don’t know what series they will be racing in. Apparently Sir Martin Sorrell, the advertising guru and non-exec board member of F1′s commercial rights holder, has been making his presence felt in the background this past couple of weeks. He also got Ecclestone to use his pr company to try to repair the fallout from the Hitler comments, hence the Peter Mandelson connection, as the firm also acts for him.
At a cold and windy Nurburgring the various parties are moving slowly towards a conclusion to this lengthy and painful dispute. Team bosses tell me that the subtstantive issues are quite close to resolution, but that some details remain to be hammered out.
The teams are working closely with CVC to finalise the Concorde Agreement. One thing I have learned which is quite interesting is that the FIA never did manage to get the written commitment from the manufacturers behind the teams to stay in F1 until 2012. This was something Mosley was insisting on during the Silverstone weekend, but apparently it was not on the table in Paris. This leaves open the possibility that not all the manufacturers will remain in F1, despite playing key roles in the course of this dispute.