Pressure Mounts to Bounce Mosley
Pressure on Max Mosley to resign as president of the FIA mounted during the week-end, building on the decision by the royal prince of Bahrain, Shaikh Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, earlier in the week to uninvited Mosley from this week-end’s Formula One race in that country.
Three time world champion and Formula One elder, Sir Jackie Stewart - pictured here - told the press in Bahrain (where he is a guest of the crown prince) that it was time for Mosley to go.
Referring to the crown prince’s actions, Stewart said: "I think that policy will be picked up, whether it is in Spain, where King Juan Carlos will almost certainly be in attendance at their grand prix in two weeks’ time, or in other countries on other continents where the culture, religion or moral standing would not allow Mosley’s presence.
His position is clearly untenable. He has to step down."
(more after the jump)
Stewart also said that “Mosley is supposed to be the protector of the sport. Frankly, in his own mind he has to start recognizing that this could be affecting an awful lot of other people beyond himself. The statements from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Toyota and Honda, as well as the country of Bahrain, are quite clear.
"Had he been the head of the International Olympic Committee, or the PGA or LTA, or come to that the CBI, it’s hard to imagine he would not have gone by now. I just don’t see how anyone in his position would see himself capable of saying: ’I’m going to stay’. There’s a commercial factor to be considered as well. There are maybe some sponsors who may be sensitive in his presence."
Stewart’s comments coincided with a decision by the American Automobile Association, which is affiliated with the FIA, to call for Mosley’s resignation. Stewart is uniquely well connected in Formula One, having both been a winning driver and a team owner.
Mosley, however, has so far declined to resign. He explained his position in a letter sent to all organizations affiliated with the FIA. It stated that, "[h]ad I been caught driving excessively fast on a public road, or over the alcohol limit, I should have resigned the same day.
“As it is, a scandal paper obtained by illegal means pictures of something I did in private which, although unacceptable to some people, was harmless and completely legal. Many people do things in their bedrooms, or have personal habits which others find repugnant. But as long as they keep them private, nobody objects.
"The offence seems to be not what I did, but the fact that it became public. I was the victim of a disgusting conspiracy."
The AAA’s position, however, disagreed with Mosley’s attempt to treat this as a matter of private conduct.
Their resolution stated that "[w]hile this matter may be viewed as private by some, the damage to the image of the FIA and its constituents is clearly public. For an organization — and its leader — to exercise the moral authority required to represent millions of motorists and sanction the activities of motorsport they must uphold the highest standards of ethical behavior. After careful consideration, the AAA have conveyed to Mr Mosley that it would be in the interests of all concerned if he were to step down."
Mosley has said that he wants to place his position before the FIA’s general assembly, which next meets in Paris in June.
The pressure mounting on him, however, suggests that he is unlikely to survive in his post until then, and would be unlikely to convince the general assembly if he did.
Of course, Mosley’s departure will create a new problem at the same instant it solves the current one: the selection of a new FIA president.
Some thought that the inside track to Mosley’s post favored Ferrari’s past president, Jean Todt, to take over once Mosley’s term expires next year. But that belief was predicated, at least in part, on the belief that Mosley, who is a friend of Todt’s, would have substantial influence on the selection of a successor. That now appears to be unlikely. Todt could also anticipate opposition from McLaren and Mercedes-Benz, due to Todt’s vigorous pursuit last year of Ferrari’s claim that McLaren had stolen team secrets.
To make matters worse, the selection of the new president will have to occur in a relatively short time frame, without the breathing room of an orderly off-season transition.
Perhaps it will occur to someone, sooner or later, that Mr. Stewart might just be the ideal choice in the circumstances.