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Max Mosley – Lunch with a retired president
Max Mosley – Lunch with a retired president
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Feb 2010   |  8:17 pm GMT  |  140 comments

Today I met up with retired FIA president Max Mosley at a restaurant in South Kensington, London. Some of the F1 writers from the British national newspapers were also there, there were six of us in total.

Picture 7
A month short of his 70th birthday, he looked extremely fit and relaxed, not having a full work schedule any more. He ate sparingly, a salmon tartare, one glass of Sancerre and an espresso.

He said that he was planning to move back to London in April, as his need to be in Monaco was solely linked to his FIA work. I asked him if he would be a back seat driver in the new Jean Todt regime and he said that his contact would be minimal. He doesn’t plan to attend any races.

As an ex president he is entitled to a seat on the FIA Senate, but he says that he did not attend the last Senate meeting and he has no plans to be involved beyond being on the end of a telephone if new president Jean Todt wants his opinion. So far it seems that Todt has canvassed his view on some subjects, but Mosley reckons that these calls will decline in frequency as his knowledge becomes less current. He certainly doensn’t look or sound inclined to be a back-seat driver.

It was a very informal get together, largely off the record and Mosley didn’t have any particular agenda beyond wanting to make it clear that he was not pushed out of his job by FOTA last summer as part of the peace deal over the breakaway, as Luca di Montezemolo said at the time. This seems to be something he doesn’t want to have in his legacy and it seems to be something he takes exception to. His agreement with Jean Todt, he revealed today, was that in 2005 he would hand over to the Frenchman, like Tony Blair to Gordon Brown, but then Todt accepted the job of General Manager at Ferrari, which meant Mosley had to stay on until 2009.

He says that the proof that he planned to stand down in October 2009 is an entry for Who’s Who he submitted in April 2009, which said that he was FIA president until October 2009. Apparently, due to publishing deadlines and in agreement with the publishers, it is common practice to put confidential future information like that in submissions.

Although he said he had nothing left that he wanted to achieve in the sport and no scores to settle, that doesn’t mean he won’t be making mischief from the sidelines. Naturally we kept coming back to the outburst from Ferrari on their website yesterday in which the ‘Horse Whisperer’ accused Mosley of waging a ‘holy war’ against the F1 teams, manufacturers in particular. He said he found the whole thing quite amusing but hinted that the team had opened a can of worms here and that he had not planned to say anything rude about them before now, but that they have fired the first shot with this attack. He described Ferrari as a middle aged woman who is jealous of the attention new beautiful women around her are getting! He also said that the comments about Lotus and Virgin ‘limping’ into F1 and implying the new teams are a shambles, was rich given that Ferrari sent one of their cars out of the pits with a fuel hose attached in Singapore 2008.

On the subject of the new teams he is pleased that there is new blood in F1 and regrets the problems of USF1 and Campos. At the time of the assessment of new entries he insists that both places were visited regularly and financial checks carries out by Deloitte and by CVC’s finance experts. As for what happens next, he thinks there will be a merger between USF1 and Campos.

This would leave an open 13th entry, but he reminded us that for Stefan GP to get it, all the teams need to agree. I know for a fact, speaking to Ferrari this week, that they will not agree to that, as long as disgraced former McLaren designer Mike Coughlan is working for the team.

He spoke a lot about Flavio Briatore, much of it was well off the record, but he said that the idea of previous FIA punishments being rescinded such as the $100m fine for McLaren, is nonsense as McLaren were licence holders, the problem procedurally with the ban on Briatore. He said that without Pat Symonds making a confession, the original hearing might not have convicted the perpetrators of the Crashgate offences. He also said he was confident, if not 100% so, that Fernando Alonso was not in on the plot. He bases this on the fact that the investigators are experienced at examining witnesses and they were convinced Alonso was not lying.

Much of his time lately has been spent on his ongoing fight to change the privacy laws and he hopes that he will succeed in Strasbourg in getting some kind of law whereby newspapers must front up people they are about to expose and allow a judge to decide if publication is in the public interest or should be stopped by an injunction.

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Hi everyone, first I’d like to say I think you are often more interesting than the mainstream journalists and I thought the old F1 ITV team were better than the new BBC team.

I want to pose a few questions and thoughts that have intrigued me.

McLaren were fined $100 million? Do they actually write a cheque and say sorry?

What would happen if they don’t have the money? who gets the money? Does the FIA reduce fees next year because they had a windfall this year, or does Max get a large bonus at Christmas?

Now to talk about Max, I never really liked him, from the things he appeared to do and my perception of him from what I read and heard. I think I am in the majority of people believing him to run things in a dictatorial fashion and Not in the best interests of the sport. However! someone could have voted him out of the job? The teams could have refused to work with him in charge? It seems we don’t always get the whole story. Which brings me neatly on to the story, the Max Mosley prostitute Story, whether you like the man (Max) or not. (And knowing the story gives me a very low opinion of him) He’s private life is his. He was part of a consenting adult party. I would ask first, who benefits from knowing? Not Me! Second, who gets hurt, his Wife and very sadly, in all probability a son, so now he and his Wife get hurt again.

I think it is very brave of Max to put himself in the spotlight and fight for YOUR potential privacy because one day it might be you who is put over the front pages of an unforgiving press. I think many of us, put in this situation may have run and hid rather than kept the wounds open and pushed for a fairer system.


They paid around $30 million of it from their bank. The remaining $70m was from their entitlement to the commercial rights money from Bernie (ie their prizemoney wasn’t paid to them, but to FIA) McLaren had the money thanks to their shareholders.

The money went to the FIA Foundation and is used for all sorts of projects.

Max is a complex individual who has a very confrontational way of going about things, which can be unfortunate at times. But a lot of his instincts about the credit crunch and what it would do to F1 and the direction F1 needed to go may well prove to be right.


I despised Mosley as FIA president, and always found him a deeply corrosive figure – but I think ultimately he won’t be remembered for his tenure there, but rather for effecting a very great benefit on society.

I’m referring to the Newspaper privacy case he’s taking. Just today it’s reported that this case is being ‘fast-tracked’ by EU legal channels, suggesting that they approve of the finer points of his argument that newspaper should no longer have the right to publish inaccurate and sleazy exposes of people in the public eye without allowing them the right to seek an injunction first.

I find this a tremendously important development, and one which I completely applaud Mosley for. Because for far, far too long newspapers have been able to print what they liked about celebrities, sports figures, actors, musicians etc, regardless of the damage to family, children etc, despite there being no public benefit to learning of the stories. If a politician is guilty of fraud, or a corporation guilty of abuse of powers, that is different. But newspapers serve no one but themselves, and care for nothing but their own circulation and sales.

I personally know the ‘showbiz editor’ of one of Britain’s biggest tabloids, and he happily admits that the paper’s editor has an obsession with three particular female celebrities, and actively pushes for as many salacious stories involving the three as possible. This is clearly wrong, despite the hand-wring of the press who all claim that Mosley is pushing for censorship and the end to free speech.

So I say go for it Max – and finally do some good with your abilities.


Did Mosley have any Tea? Or were things not that exciting, We all know how he likes his Tea!

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

His favourite dish is grilled langostines. I know this because I have a book called Racy Recipes with recipes contributed by many in F1, published 1998!

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

James, has Max’s hearing problem improved?


He has a very small hearing aid



Much has been written in recent reports regarding Stefan GP getting a spot on this season’s grid that the current teams need to agree to allow them in. Mosley alludes to this in your interview as well. Is this truly the case? From what was reported about the BMW-Sauber and Lotus entries there was never any mention of the teams needing to agree. If (when) a spot opens up won’t the situations be the same?


They didn’t sign the Concorde Agreement so the other teams need to agree to let them.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Hi James,

I have continually had problems posting in the last couple of days.

There is someone who maliciously is posting under a similar name as mine (the person who uses insulting Spanish phrases). I hope that I have not been blocked as a consequence of any actions by your tech team.


bad cop, no donut.

don’t worry, you would never be banned from the site. James needs you to translate from spanish when you feel he is under attack from the malicious individual.


No you have been coming through loud and clear


Just a historical note but Max Mosley has been around in F1 since at least the 70’s when he started up the MARCH team so who knows what slights real and/or perceived have driven him over the years…for extra credit who can match the other letters in MARCH with names that were part of the team, I can’t remeber who they were!



Alan Rees

graham Coaker

robin Herd

or Much Advertised Racing Car Hoax

sponsored by STP oil treatment, meaning either

Siffert Takes Pole


Spinning Takes Practice


On a side note, if Max

– didn’t have any particular agenda beyond claiming he jumped and wasn’t pushed

– did not attend the last Senate meeting

– has no plans to be involved beyond being on the end of a telephone if new president Jean Todt wants his opinion

– doesn’t plan to attend any races

– has nothing left that he wanted to achieve in the sport and no scores to settle

then what’s he really got left to meet about 😀

red bull tastes like...

on the first interview he gave when he took power, he said he was going to get involved in the lower formulas , where he was more needed, and let f1 run by itself. He either lied, or didn’t have a clue. Make your choices.


I’d say BOTH. He lied (many times) and didn’t have a clue (on certain issues)


While we are on the subject of FIA Presidents, Happy Birthday to Jean Todt. 64 years young today.


I hope he gets a new sweater to keep him warm in Bahrain


Lunch in South Ken? Chairing conferences in Monaco?

My, what a charmed existence you lead, James. 😉


Two points:

1. As Robert McKay already pointed out above, comparing the debacle of the new teams to Ferrari’s Singapore 2008 fuel hose problem is utterly ridiculous. Max really is clutching at straws with that one.

2. Apart from the rare lapse of point 1. above, Max has always struck me as an extremely intelligent bloke who can discuss things with an eloquence that few others can match. I find it hard to understand where all the hate directed at him comes from. Many people seem to be convinced that he “ousted” Ron and Flav from F1 as part of a personal vendetta, but both of them have only themselves to blame. They were the ones who gave Max the rope he used to hang them with.

Lastly, people are saying that Max shouldn’t have the right to privacy when doing illegal things, perhaps not, but Max’s [mod] S&M session was not illegal (paying for sex in the UK is *not* illegal) so it was entirely his business and nobody else’s.


I agree with your point about his personal charm, eloquence and cleverness.

What got on my nerves were the arbitrary nature of punishments he awarded, the underhand deals cut at various stages, the knowledge that his will was law in the FIA, the favouritism towards Ferrari, the unconcealed contempt for non-FIA justice values.

Towards the end he treated the world’s foremost sporting series, including its stakeholders and its legion fans like his own private plaything.

It was an unmandated abuse of his power and station.

Let’s not get overly sentimental about the man already!


Interesting to hear that Max is spending his time on privacy laws. His antics in that dungeon; was it ‘IN’ the public interest to reveal them?…no. I can’t see how the pulic benefitted from knowing. However, were they ‘OF’ public interest?…yes. It sells papers etc, whether we like it or not or agree with it or not. I guess we’ll hear more about this, which would be OF public interest of course!!


Lol, love what Max said about Ferrari. Ferrari is legendary but their website post surely did them more damage than the teams they speak of; it made them look childish, unsporting, and yes, as Mosley says jealous – after all they are getting a LOT of attention.

Remember in 1996? The Ferrari would literally fall apart during some of the races and nobody suggested they shouldn’t have a place on the grid.

Maybe the Alonso pantomime villain effect has rubbed off on them!


Max Mosley.. just the name alone gives me shudders. Won’t be reading this article.

And referring to the comments above about Todt, was it any surprise when he left Ferrari they stopped getting favourable treatment and became enemies with FIA? If Todt was still at Ferarri, DDD’s might have been banned last year.


For Max Mosley to admit to a group of F1 journalists that he had an agreement with Todt to hand over the top job at the FIA in 2005 coupled with the parts both Mosley and Todt played in so called ‘Spygate’….can anyone else smell anything?

James could you tell us on this blog what the response was at the lunch when Mosley openly admitted he had made a secret agreement with Todt to replace him?


“Granita” ! It’s not such a big deal, he still had to get elected. Mosley was briefing that he wanted Todt to replace him from the early 2000s onwards. Matt Bishop wrote it in F1 Racing at the time.


is bishop still working for mclaren?


Yes he is


Are you honestly saying that it’s not a big deal for the President of the FIA to openly use his position whilst in office to promote his chosen one in no big deal?

The Granita pact between Blair and Brown, like that between Mosley and Todt just shows what these people with power think of those that elect them doesn’t it?

How can an election be fair when it’s tilted in one direction? To my mind it can’t.

It’s almost like these people with power get to believe it is their divine right to do as they wish.

Sometimes the only way to fix things is to knock it down and start again.


yeah i agree with James.

There is a big difference between handing over power to an unelected person (which is what you’re getting at Freespeech) and recommending someone for election (which is what actually happened).

After all, are both Blair and Mosley not entitled to have an opinion about who should succeed them and be able to voice it? Anyone else voting is allowed, if they wish, to say who they are voting for and recommend others do the same, so why can’t they?


Blair wanted Brown to succeed him, they did a deal. There was a vote (although there didn’t have to be if there was no other candidate) and Brown became leader. The exact same thing happened with Mosley and Todt.



you said in one of your posts about Stefan (in reply to me) that you were meeting Dave Ryan yesterday.

If he was at the lunch, I bet there were some interesting discussions?


Different event. Actually I owe Dave an apology as he hasn’t joined Stefan GP, as I was informed by someone who was joining the team.


“Blair to Brown”…

What an apt analogy.


Oh the characters in F1 eh.

First Schumacher, then Alonso and now Mosley are starting to change my negative opinions of them.

Don’t get me wrong Max did some things I disagree with, but now that he’s out of the picture it’s easier to see the good he did for the sport too.

I for one will read his book when it comes out, whether I agree with his views or not, I think it will be a fascinating read.


I miss Mosley, i think he was a forward thinking and great leader struggling against FOTA who want to govern themselves (that will be disastrous if it ever happens). I get why others didn’t like him though and I don’t like what he said about Jackie Stewart.

I agree about his memoirs, I can’t wait to read them. And I suspect, love him or hate him, most agree about that at least!

Not yet World Champion

Revenge is best served cold…

Zami from melbourne, Australia

Off the topic James, I’ve been reading some furious news about Bridgestone certainly leaving the sport at the end of 2010. Even though it’s still early days, I can’t help to think that there will be no 2011 Formula 1 season without the tyre supplier. Is there any inside news about that?


There won’t be a problem getting a tyre supplier, at the end of the day this is all just haggling.

I’ve read that Bridgestone were spending as much as $100 million per year on F1, and they definitely weren’t making that back in publicity.

I can imagine the new deal involving much less sponsorship, and more cash being paid to the supplier to cover the actual costs being incurred.

Whether it’s Michelin or someone else less well known, it’s not really going to matter too much. To most people tyres are tyres, which is the fundamental problem Bridgestone (and Michelin before them) had.


Not since Michelin said they were looking at it. Pirelli won’t do it.


Does Mosley play poker? I know Alonso does.


with marked cards.


Serbian Vulture, get some Tyres, use the ones that the other teams take off their cars after a pit stop. Picture this – Alonso pits, tyre change, serbian vulture crew swoops in, wheels the tyres down the track & bolts them on the Toyota, Now that’s a pitstop that will require some practice!


No one except for the inner circle of f1 really know what mosley is like. Everybody outside the inner circle have formed oppionions based on news, print and media including myself.

I have no doubt he is a gentleman etc etc but the reality is apart from his safety agenda, I personally believe he has ruined f1 with changes that are not reqiured. Any avid f1 follower can tell you the amount of pathetic changes that have taken placed and cost teams billions for no reason. Max liked to muddy the waters, along with his friend Bernie. I hope come 2012 the teams tell them to get stuffed and start there own series. And use the name f1. Because i bet in a court of law, they will easily win the right to use a general term like f1. The FIA do nothing but cause trouble.


…boys, boys, boys…..


I always admired Mosley’s intelligent style of communication. He is really well spoken.


go get a job on the evening news then.


Is that comment really necessary?

red bull tastes like...

is it war neccessary? no, but it happens. So i gess we have to live with it.


revisionism is a beautiful thing…..

Grooved Tires…

Restructuring of points system…

Traction control


The list goes on…Max…THANK GOD YOU ARE GONE… you were killing the sport. Now please take Herman Tilke with u!!!!!


Wow, i couldn’t have said it better! Yes please, take Tilke with you Max!


I don’t agree about Mosely but I most certainly do about Tilke.


i agree. traction control, “because it can not be policed, we have to make it legal”. May be he is not as intelligent after all.


I disagree; if someone admits their failings (in this case not his but the FIA’s as a whole) and then makes a pretty logical conclusion (that if they can’t police it then make it legal) then that to me shows that when they say they can be effective then they really can – they’re not just saying they can.

Making traction control legal at the time was the only fair thing to do because otherwise those that were following the rules were at a disadvantage. When the standard ECU came into play it meant that policing it was possible and therefore traction control was again (thank goodness) banned.

One of the biggest problems with Mosley’s reign was that he was the only person in the FIA who consistently put across a point of view (as president). This doesn’t mean he actually was the only person making decisions, just that he appeared to be. When Mosley said that the FIA couldn’t police traction control, clearly he didn’t mean he himself should be policing it – he meant the tech people couldn’t. So if you question intelligence on this point you should question the FIA tech people – not just the person doing the PR speaking.

bad cop, no donut.

may be, but don’t forget he is responsible for the people that work for the fia, all of them. He said so to dennis when the spygate.

And the ecu is just one thing, the overtaking measures didn’t work, the grooves were a joke, and kers a waste of money at this time.

It is hard to justify his actions, but it’s good you try, because if it was for me, he would be sued in the court of law, for abuse of power among other things.


As much as I appreciate what Max Mosley did for the sport, especially from a safety point of view, I felt that his time as FIA President went on for too long. One of the biggest problems with Max I felt towards the end of his tenure was that he was making important decisions at the wrong time that effected the sports image short and long term. One being to introduce the KERS system which backfired, the choosing of the new teams, the handling of the manufacturers with FOTA, crashgate (allowing Piquet to run free although it was he who altimately crashed the car), the allegiance towards Jean Todt of FIA President etc.

James do you feel that some of these issues could have been handled differently given the long term effect that it might have on the sport?

And do you think it would have been better for Max to step down sooner and temporarily hand the FIA reins over until the new President was voted in?


Yes I do agree about Piquet, in my view letting him off was probably more outrageous than the crash itself. I can’t stand the way he makes himself out to be such a victim.

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