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High stakes poker ahead of world council meeting
High stakes poker ahead of world council meeting
Posted By:   |  23 Jun 2009   |  1:50 pm GMT  |  40 comments

Things in the F1 breakaway world are intensifying as we count down to yet another potentially decisive moment, the FIA world motor sport council meeting tomorrow morning in Paris.

Against a backdrop of eight of the current F1 teams wishing to break away and signs of a lack on confidence from some of the proposed new teams, everyone is waiting to see whether there will be some kind of attempt to oust FIA president Max Mosley, or indeed any kind of attempt by the WMSC to get the FOTA teams to re-engage. If nothing is forthcoming then FOTA’s preparations for 2010 will continue apace.

The Italian contingent at the WMSC will be closely watched; there are three of them, including Luca di Montzemolo, the Ferrari and FOTA president, Enrico Gelpi as well as Gino Macaluso, who represents the karting world.

On the face of it, this is a scheduled meeting of the WMSC and it was due to ratify the entry list for 2010. When Mosley announced on Friday that he was launching a legal action against FOTA, the entry list was put on hold. Mosley said on Sunday that he has dropped the legal action and he refers to preparing the legal action in his letter. Nevertheless, the question may well come up tomorrow about who is on the entry list.

Mosley is going to have to be nimble, he’s well aware of the teams position that there can be no deal to bring them back into the FIA series unless he is replaced and today he wrote a letter to the member clubs of the FIA, essentially the people who have a vote, which I have seen this afternoon.

It states that FOTA’s purpose is to take over the FIA’s regulatory function in Formula 1 and quotes the recent communication from the European Car industry association (ACEA) which complained about the lack of transparency in the FIA’s governance.

“Over recent weeks it has become increasingly clear that one of the objectives of the dissident teams is that I should resign,” said Mosley.

“It is for the FIA membership, and the FIA membership alone, to decide on its democratically elected leadership, not the motor industry and still less the individuals the industry employs to run its Formula One teams.”

In the letter Mosley adds that he now intends to stand for another term, which will only strengthen the resolve of the FOTA teams.

He has made concessions since FOTA announced its breakaway. In a surprising change of heart he said, that there does not have to be a budget cap, but a substantial reductions in costs.

At the moment, it looks like the momentum is with FOTA, who will be looking for something from the world council to make them change their minds. If that is not forthcoming, a better share of the revenues from the sport might be put on the table, but if the governance structure remains the same, then their main reason for going their own way remains.

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“Are journalists that frightened of one man that they won’t say what they really believe?”

You bet they are Harvey : One look at the press accreditation requirements on the FIA website shows you just what hoops the Journos have to go through to get access – and keep it :

“The highest standards of fairness and accuracy are expected as a minimum quality requirement from the press”.

On the face of it, this is perfectly reasonable but for someone like Moseley it’s the perfect weapon to use to keep adverse comment down to a minimum.

There’s also the example of the attempt that was made to nobble someone as high profile as Martin Bundle for his comments on ITV and in the Sunday Times over Spygate.

I’m sure James will have something to add on this ??

It’s a sure sign that his power is weakening that we are now seeing some highly critical articles in Autosport ( Mark Hughes ) and particularly on the Times and Guardian blogs which James has thoughtfully provided links to on his excellent toolbar.

I only downloaded this last week and now use it all the time to follow F1 on a lot of different sites.


Max can not say now there is no budget cap when five teams have signed up to one. He can not say there is no two tier regulations when the Cosworth is due to run un-rev-limited and all the other engines are not.
Having said that…..
There is no reason that F1 could not have a perfectly decent series of spec cars with spec engines and a budget cap of £40 million.
When people talk of a split it sounds like 50/50 but this is more 80/20 and the new FOTA series will, very shortly be so different, there should be no problem running both.
All the more for us!
Max’s letter seems to be saying the FOTA teams want to take over the FIA, when in real life, I believe they are saying, we have had enough of you and we are going to do our own thing. If, for the sake of argument, Max does go, whicih I think is unlikely, he will have to take is cronies with him or we will be back to square one pretty quickly.


Want to have your say regarding the FiA/FOTA war? Go to:
and vote.

SiY earlier used the phrase ‘rallying call’ which is rather ironic given the state the WRC is in. On top of that the World Touring car championship mirrors F1 in its bewilderment at the the stewards’ decisions. And World Sports Cars might as well not exist.

Most of the top level series are in a dreadful state. Indeed, F1 would appear to be in the best condition of any of them despite the fact its very existence is under threat.

The WMSC will be relieved to find today’s discussion is not about what they should have done to support WRC, WTC, WSC and the other series. They would have no explanation. The ACO run Le Mans series steadily improves, with a 50-odd car grid for 24-hours and independent Ginetta in LMP1 against the factory Audis and Peugeots. But everything that is run by the FiA seems in a state of collapse.

Mosley’s record compares badly with that of the person whom he replaced. At least Balestra left the other formulae in a reasonable state. Not to mention an intact, if somewhat battered, F1.

I can’t find the quote, but I remember Mosley, rather modestly, saying about a year ago that he was the only person who could see through the changes that he wanted to impose on F1. This would tend to indicate that this debacle was a planned action and that FOTA’s proposals, including the suggested method to reduce costs, never stood a chance of being accepted. Or, probably, even considered.

Mind you, it is difficult to believe that anyone, especially someone so hyper intelligent as Mosley, could come up with a plan that fell apart so spectacularly after such a long development time. It smacks of genius.

If Mosley was indeed planning this from before the time of the so-called vote of confidence, his justification for the imposition of the fundamental change, that of the current financial crisis, surely must be spurious. Who would have thought, eh?

Talk to any rally nerd in this country and they will tell you about standing in Sweet Lamb, in ice and snow, or in the midst of a force 8 gale straight off the Urals. I’ve arrived at a special stage at 4am only to find the best spots, at least those nearest the car park, have all been taken, and this despite the 3-hours before the first car was due. Those getting to the car park at 5 were turned away as it was full.

Look at rallying now. This will be the fate of F1 if it is left in the hands of Mosley.


Vik, Ian Phillips spoke more rubbish in his slot with Maurice Hamilton than my binmen have carted away in the last 12 months.

I believe that having come this far FOTA should stick to its guns and go the extra mile, unless Max goes, never to cast his miserable shadow over the sport of F1 again, but FOTA should also be certain that Max’s cronies accompany him out of the building, including the sheik and his brother.

Max has shown his true colours with his “Loonies” comment, he is a confrontationalist, a man who’s word is worth less than a Zimbabwean dollar, and a man who clearly changes tack to suit his opportunistic manner, in short, a man not to be trusted, I hope the FIA see sense and kick him out.


Got an interesting email from the official Ferrari Supporters Forum website today – a quck survey asking whether or not I’d support FOTA’s decision to create a new championship in 2010 – get your YES vote in here folks :



The new breakaway series sounds AMAZING, and best of all, it won’t cost me a single penny of risk!! Whoo Hoo! Let’s has something exicting happen for a change, why are all you guys SO serious, it won’t change ANY of your lives whatever happens, so CHEER up that there’s so many people out there all wanting to give us free televised entertainment 🙂


Mosley has to go, not only the regulations are driving everyone crazy, but at the end he’s finding himself cought, between DD difussers and KERS and withou entry list for next year.

When a team has not finished investing lots and lots of money in the KERS, suddenly they have to start spending even a lot more of money with the DD, which is not really according to the budget cap he ‘wanted’ to introduced.

Theoretically all new regulations were to made F1 much more exciting, and well, finally RB have found themselves so well, that the most interesting thing during last GP were those I-was-to-take-over-but-didn’t-finally-got-it!!!! It’s being Brawn, Brawn and Brawn (no one follows), and now it’s RB RB RB (no one follows). Come on, not only a single GP in which both teams have been even. It’s the same story as in the past, drivers take over during pit-stops, but if Raikonnenn gets behind Trully, it doesn’t matter whether his car is faster or not, he’ll not take over Trully, or Vettel being stuck behind Trully, or everyone behind Vettel as in Monaco, or Alonso and Hamilton behing both BMWs, or, or… So after all, it seems to me that FIA regulations don’t seem to be working quite as intended.

FOTA teams are not sitting down to any meeting with FIA till Mosley is out, which I agree, now it’s their turn to push hard. And Mosley will have to explain himself how is it possible that there’s not an entry-list for the 2010 championship!!! Let’s see if Mosley is out and we restart all from scratch.


“He has made concessions since FOTA announced its breakaway. In a surprising change of heart he said, that there does not have to be a budget cap, but a substantial reductions in costs.”

It’s too late for Max, FOTA smells blood and they are prepared to finish this thing.


Nice post, as always. I think it was Ian Phillips of Force India who reckoned everyone would be racing in the same series under the same rules next year. And although I dismissed it at the time as the opinion of a man who had clearly smoked too many Embassy No.1’s, it certainly looks like we might be heading that way. If Max Mosely concedes everything except his resignation, will the momentum for FOTA to break away remain? I don’t personally think so. It looks like we’re heading rather sheepishly for a return to business as usual. If we are, then it’s been a spectacular waste of time for all of us. Being a f1 fan reminds me of the wisdom of Obi Wan Kenobi; “Who’s more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?”


I personally don’t see how in all fairness the FIA can do anything other than have a budget cap. It has courted entries from new teams with that assertion in place, and these teams have duly signed up after due diligence to compete under those rules.

I know that many people are against it, and indeed that the handling of this whole issue by Mosley has been nothing short of disastrous, but if the spending is to be controlled in the long term I can’t imagine that self regulation will work for more than a year or two. The first time one team spends more it will be an excuse for them all to do it. I know that many of the cost reduction sanctions are self inposed, but without the clout of the FIA behind them I don’t think they will stand for long

I think that if Mosley caves now, all credibilty that he and the FIA have will be lost, and they might as well hand over F1 to the teams, which I think will be a disaster. With so much money at stake, and a sporting series on this scale you need an impartial organisation to set the rules and ensure they are upheld. If the last couple of years has taught us anything it is that the teams will use any advantage to win, and some will resort to cheating.

If FOTA take over the sport and don’t reduce costs to such an extent that new teams will enter, what will happen in 3 years time if the global recession continues? What if at that point Renault, Toyota and BMW pull out. It will leave us in a much worse position with less teams, and no new teams will be able to enter. I understand the manufacturers frustrations, but their actions are irresponsible and based on short term gain, not the good of the sport.


Here my predicition now….

The WSMC is nothing more than an extension of the FIA and thus and extension of Max Mosley…. they will do nothing about getting rid of him and will actually come down hard on FOTA… – this will guarantee a split

you only have to look at this history of this body…. they voted for the medals system… clearly they didn’t listen to any opion that mattered … just Mosley and Bernie..

Expect the end of F1 tomorrow, legal battles to begin…

Very sad…. but I fro one fully support FOTA


One issue that have been commented on very little is that several teams have not been paid their share of revenues by FOM since 2006 apparently tens of millions of dollars. Mario Thiissen spoke shortly of it at Sliverstone and Bernie Ecclestone has said before that he does not have to pay the teams.
For sure this must play a big role in the current dispute as well. Would you be able to expand on this James?



On the pitpass.com website today, http://www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_news_item.php?fes_art_id=38293, there is a bit of comment where the final paragraph reads:

“Every day more journalists are finally sticking their head above the parapet, admitting publicly what they’d been saying privately for so long, that Mosley’s governance of the sport is destroying it and that the Englishman must go for the food of F1.”

Are journalists that frightened of one man that they won’t say what they really believe? And in any case, isn’t it their job to tell the truth as they see it? A few short weeks ago, most media outlets were suggesting the MM is next for beatification.


Not to steal your thunder, James, but Ed Gorman on The Times F1 blog has published the letter in full, and I think it is worth reading. I find it unsurprising that Mosley paints a picture of the teams trying to take control of Formula One away from the FIA (inaccurate though that picture is), and equally unsurprising that this is his rallying call and excuse to run again. (Remember 2001, when he claimed to be reluctant to run for a third term, and 2005 when he stood again only because so many in the FIA asked him to?).

What did catch my interest, though, is that Mosley makes no mention that there are non-manufacturer teams within FOTA, and intentionally does not explain the acronym. It is presented as a take-over bid by industry. A risky strategy if the recipients of his letter were predominantly knowledgeable F1 fans, but the majority of the FIA member clubs are touring, caravan and road car organisations. The us-versus-them approach which Max uses in his letter, transparent though it is, may well get him re-elected.


James, what do you make of FOTA’s supposed “leaked” schedule for 2010? Here it is :


Looks completely fake to me but the rumours sure are growing!


Interesting point in that letter. I do agree that the FIA leader should be democratically elected and that the governing body should be free from influence of the Car Companies.

My issue is that although, in principle, the current system of Governance by the FIA is the right way to go, its membership does not act in the best interests of Formula One and its fans and appear to be easily influenced by the heirarchy.

However it is a double edged sword. Although it would seem that FOTA should run a candidate against Mosley in the October election, do we really want to polarise an election?

We need someone who is willing to work with both sides. Someone who will set out a radical reform of the FIA. For example, allowing for greater consultation with the teams over future proposed rule changes, but in turn someone who would not allow the teams to hold the governing body to ransom everytime they differed in opinion.

Pity such proposals appear too perfect to ever be true.


Hi James
First – congratulations! After six months of visiting here most days, you’ve made my bookmark toolbar. 🙂 Your site has become a don’t-miss read for me during these complicated F1 times.

Second – Tony Dodgin’s latest article on autosport.com mentions the “Don King clause” of the deal in which Max infamously sold 100 years of TV rights to Bernie for tuppence ha’penny or so. I gather it means that the FIA can block any onward sale of the rights, although they chose not to do so in the CVC deal. It’s interesting that this clausehas not been mentioned previously in all the to-ing and fro-ing: could it be part of the reason why Max is so determind to hang on in there? Because the next man in might be more keen to use this tool? (ahem, pardon the expression.)

In searching for an explanation of this clause, I found the following article from last year on the Independent’s site:


I think the following comments from Bernie (who wasn’t terribly happy with Max at the time of course) rather revealing:

‘Ecclestone believes, however, that far from stepping down, Mosley will stand for re-election in October 2009 for another four-year term. “Max will be the president until he dies. This is what many people don’t understand: he enjoys confrontation. He likes argument! These things stimulate him.” That is not what the majority of people in the paddock want. The mood remains that Mosley should go, irrespective of what the majority of FIA member clubs think.
Ecclestone added: “Max has always ruled by fear. But I think more people will be likely to take him on after all this.” ‘

A bit prophetic in hindsight…. but the one real unknown for me in this is what Bernie will do. What’s the feeling on the ground? Have Bernie and Flavio stitched it all up between them?


James, could you please explain this as I thought the teams were self owned and that they just raced in the F1 series as individuals.

” still less the individuals the industry employs to run its Formula One teams.”
I didn’tthink the teams were FIA employees
. Is this further proof that MM hasn’t quite got an understanding of the situation, or is he referring to some other FIA employees that are supposed to oversee the Temas that are competing?
Barry Petaluma, Ca. USA



it looks like the FOTA breakaway series is gaining unstoppable momentum now. If Mosley seeks re election which looks likely now then FOTA will breakaway. Surely Mosley’s position will be compromised? The FIA championship cannot possibly survive. For countries like Malaysia and Turkey surely it would be cheaper to pay their contract to FOM but not hold the race?
The key is the Ferrari contract. Can Ferrari extract themselves out of it? A previous blogger even suggested that Ferrari turn up with outdated cars and go through the motions as it were until the contract was fulfilled.
Without going into great detail you would expect the EU to side with FOTA not to mention the NAFTA.
On another note I see that Chaka Khan and the Backstreet Boys have been signed up to do the first F1 Rocks in Singapore. I’m sure there will be a rush to see that concert? You could say that this sums up the situation that FIA/FOM are in right now….


Max IS responsible for a major failure in the negotiations, that is the offering of the possibility of rule changes whilst demanding an irrevocable commitment to joining the championship. Even on Sunday he was saying that he had offered rule changes and it was the teams that were loonies for turning it down, yet was is not within his authority to promise these changes.

It seems to me that his brinkmanship negotiating ploy has finally failed. He was assuming that some teams might waver, and they did not. He now has a weak hand because he does not have a 2010 championship without a renegotiation of the rules – the very thing he was claiming made it impossible for him to offer concessions to the teams.

After Sunday, it came across that Max was the one negotiating in bad faith as he simply blamed the other side for not climbing down, while never admitting that he had, in reality, offered absolutely nothing to the teams that had a cast iron guarantee of being delivered, everything being dependent on non-FOTA teams and the FIA accepting any rule changes.

We also discovered there are other people in F1 whose sanity he rates lower than Jackie Stewart. Surely the WMSC should be censuring Max for bringing the FIA into disrepute with such inappropriate language (and I’d love to see what he was going to write about Luca that one of the Ferrari directors got him to take out).


Does the Concorde agreement come into any of this??


Two points, James. One, it is a fallacy to suggest that Mosley has made concessions to the teams. He did no such thing. What he actually did was made empty promises, and told FOTA members that his promises could be fulfilled only by their agreeing to sign up for his planned rule changes. Then, in fairy tale world, the rules would be changed back by some fantasy capitulation from the new teams who’d agreed to sign up solely because those new rules gave them instant parity with (or debatably, a significant advantage over) the existing teams.

That agreement would never have been forthcoming from the new teams, so once Max had signed up the FOTA teams, they would have been legally required to abide by his 2010 rules instead. Max’s refusal to change a single rule *before* the FOTA teams signed up shows that there was absolutely no concession made on his part, nor any real interest in doing so.

Two, I note that in part of his letter which you don’t quote, Max is changing his story yet AGAIN about why the rules changes are even needed. First we were told it was to stop another manufacturer team leaving, then we were told it was about “needing new blood”, and now we have yet another new story – this time it is about stopping an independent team from failing.

It is blindingly obvious that Mosley is changing his story on an almost weekly basis because the rules changes aren’t actually about any of these things. He had to change from the manufacturer team story because the manufacturers all agreed to sign up through 2012 under the current rules. He had to change the new blood story, because new teams are already starting discussions to join FOTA’s new series. Thing is, the independent teams he’s claiming he’s fighting for are all in agreement that FOTA is right, even those two which he has signed up for 2010 due to legal obligations.


In the letter Mosley adds that he now intends to stand for another term, which will only strengthen the resolve of the FOTA teams.

That’s incredible news. That’s incendiary. He stated last year that he would not stand for another term, after the spanking revelations.

He said there is a deadline. Changed his mind on that when they called his bluff.

He said I’ll sue. Decided not to sue (most likely because someone pointed out it would be wasted money).

Does this man understand the principle of being a “man of your word”?

He called some of the FOTA principles “loonies”. Thats just plain unprofessional, quite apart from rude.

This is embarrassing. The man is a joke. I’m amazed that someone allegedly so intelligent can make such poor decisions.

I’m pleased he has done this, it’ll almost certainly mean FOTA will continue to walk away. I’ve so *had enough* of this man’s duplicity I want FOTA to do their own thing so this man is no longer part of anything to do with the top rung of motorsport.

“…They have an expression: pride goeth before a a fall. Their pride was their undoing. I know. I was there… They did not listen, of course. Arrogant men never do. Sadly, arrogance has never been exclusively a human trait. It travels between the stars like solar winds.”


I’m actually rather enjoying watching this now. Like all dictators Mosely is seemingly the last to become aware that his reign is over. Either he agrees to resign (he loses, but keeps his dignity) or he fights on (and also loses, but drags the FIA down with him). He overplayed his hand last week and the whole motor-racing world now knows that he’s got a pair of twos, not the royal flush that he wanted everyone to believe.

One gets the feeling that FOTA can sniff victory now and nothing less than a complete cave-in by the FIA will be acceptable. Personally, I’d love to see a ‘new F1’ where crowds turn up in their hundreds of thousands, prices are sensible, TV coverage is in HD (with moveable in-car cameras), stewards are ex F1 drivers and not just the head of the Timbuktu Caravan Club out on a jolly, where the rules are stable and easy to understand, where there is a mix of classic circuits and newer venues, where income goes back into the sport rather than servicing a bottomless pit debt. Hmmm, sounds rather good actually…..hope the Beeb are checking the fine print on their contract.


James! Second paragraph, first sentence – “oust FIA President Max Moseley” and not “out FIA President Max Moseley”, although the latter would provide some juicy headlines for the papers, wouldn’t it? 😉

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