Max Mosley has full agenda of goals
Q: You’ve survived a lot of calls for your resignation; how do you feel now?
Max Mosley: The idea that has been put around that if someone is the head of a big company they would have to resign – that was true 20 years ago but if you take someone like Lord Browne, the head of BP, I don’t think he had to resign because he was gay and had a rent boy, as they call it; he had to resign because he told a lie about it. You mustn’t lie about what you have done.
People are interested in whether you can do the job. If someone is the right man for the job and there’s no one around who can do it better you’d be crazy to throw him out because of something he does in his private life. Times have moved on.
Q: What about the manufacturers (Honda, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and BMW) who called for your resignation in the days following the first News of the World story?
MM: The four manufacturers put out their statements but it was all based on the Nazi thing, and what annoyed me was that they didn’t pick the phone up and say, ‘Is this true?’
One of the first things you learn when you run any kind of organization is that when someone tells you something that seems outrageous and you are really annoyed with somebody, you’ve always got to haul the somebody in because it is never quite how it was told to you – and they didn’t do that.
Q: What was your thought process when the story broke in News of the World?
MM: My immediate reaction when it happened was that it was completely outrageous. When something like that happens your immediate reaction is to counter-attack and that’s what I did.
People said to me that I should resign, but it was for the FIA to decide that. Bernie Ecclestone said it would be terrible if I lost the vote, but I was prepared to accept that.
If the majority of the members of the FIA thought I should stop then I would have stopped. But when a substantial majority said go on then for me it was a question of attacking the News of the World.
Winning the case was good because it stopped all the nonsense about Nazism and in terms of my ability to do the job, now with the Nazism thing out of the way, it will have no effect at all on me.
Q: What about your reputation – are you not concerned that you may now be remembered not for your FIA work, but for an S&M orgy?
MM: It may be when all the dust settles, if the people responsible are successfully prosecuted in the two or three countries where what they did is a criminal offence, then it may look very different.
But there’s nothing I can do; I cannot undo it. So I have to carry on and do the best I can and hope that when the history gets written I will be remembered for things which are more interesting.
Q: Is your ability to do the job affected?
MM: Not in the slightest. To most people it is a slightly amusing piece of information about me which is of no consequence – that’s how most people see it. I said to people in F1, ‘You can have three jokes at my expense, then that’s it.’
Q: When do you plan to attend a grand prix again?
Q: Will you stand again for FIA president in October 2009?
MM: I don’t want to stand again in 2009 because I don’t want to go to work every day. There’s an immense amount of work to do in this job.
I don’t feel old, but I feel that there is more to life. You spend all your time trying to solve other people’s problems.
Q: There has been a lot of talk about the effect of this case on future privacy cases – what is your view?
MM: What’s good is that the publicity about it, particularly in News of the World and Daily Mail, has been so outrageous that in future when people find themselves in my position and ask for the thing to be held in camera, which is at the discretion of the judge, they’ll get a sympathetic hearing – because what is the point of a privacy hearing if it is massively public?
You sue for privacy and the get a double or triple dose of what you are complaining about.
Q: You are pursuing legal action against media in France, where rules on publishing private photos are much stricter than the UK. What do you expect to happen there?
MM: There is a chance they’ll go to prison and that would be very funny if it happens.
Q: Do you think that one of your enemies among the leading figures in F1 set up the News of the World sting?
MM: It is more likely than not. The News of the World did not just chance on it. But that is being investigated very carefully [by Lord Stevens’ Quest company] and sooner or later we’ll know.
Bernie warned me about it in January and gave me a name, but with Bernie you’ve got to be a little bit cautious, shall we say.
I don’t know for sure who it was and I’m not going to blame anyone until I’m certain.
In my position you’ve got to be very careful; it’s easy to get into a conspiracy theory about it.
Q: Lord Stevens also warned you of a threat before the incident?
MM: Yes and I took precautions not to be followed and so on. But what I was doing was based on the assumption that the women concerned were completely trustworthy and that proved to be the case because four of them gave evidence, which was very brave of them.
The fifth one was a very close friend of the main one and she turned out to be the one who made the film.
Q: How do things stand with CVC and the Concorde Agreement now? It is rumored that they want to sell their 75% stake in the company which owns the commercial rights, but they can’t as long as you won’t sign a Concorde Agreement?
MM: They tell me that they are in no hurry [to sell]. If a sovereign wealth fund came along with a huge amount of money then they’d be tempted, but I suspect part of it would be getting to the stage where Bernie is replaced.
If someone wanted to buy it, the whole business at the moment depends on a man who is 78 years old.
Q: What about the FIA’s right of veto on who CVC can sell the rights to – would you ever be prepared to give that up?
MM: I would never give it up, because you might find someone who was a complete disaster coming in, but we could soften it if the company has less say over what happens at a grand prix.
At the moment Bernie Ecclestone has control over everything so if we stop that and we look after everything while FOM purely looks after the money side, then we can be more flexible.
Eventually I think we’ll agree a compromise with CVC where they abandon a lot of the control they have over the sporting side of the event and in return we will give them much greater freedom to sell the business to whomever they want.
At the moment it is not a problem with Bernie there, but if we are going to make it easy for them to sell it to anyone, then we need to take control.
Q: What do you mean to take control of specifically?
MM: The scheduling of the events, who goes where, the timing systems – that kind of thing.
Q: How is your relationship with Bernie Ecclestone now? He appeared to turn against you when the scandal broke and said some pretty tough things, but then around Silverstone time he said that you had patched things up?
MM: It’s not been easy for Bernie. He didn’t invite the ladies into a basement in Chelsea; it’s not his fault.
He was under tremendous pressure from one or two people. People rang him up and told him it was damaging to F1 and so he reacted to that.
We’ve had frank discussions about the whole thing and it’s now behind us.
Sometimes he said things he didn’t need to say and I was a little bit pissed off, but we all do that from time to time.
It was the Nazi thing really, but a lot of people should have been more robust and rung me up and I would have told them it was nonsense.
Q: Do you still think that the teams should get 75% of the commercial revenues of the sport, as you said at the height of the battle?
MM: I do think the teams should have more of the revenue, but more important is that it should be distributed differently. The teams need to look after the independent teams.
I would give more money to the independent teams and not give any to the manufacturer teams on the grounds that they are the one who push the budgets up.
Also the 11th and 12th places need to be looked after. Because to say to people, you can come and race but you don’t get any money for two years seems difficult, if you want to encourage people to come in.
If you think of, say, the football Premier League there is such pressure to get in it from the first division, you can’t conceive of there being two vacancies and yet we have two vacancies and that doesn’t reflect well on Formula 1.
Q: The teams met in Maranello today to discuss the rules for 2011. What will you absolutely insist on?
MM: The absolute thing I’m going to insist on is the reduction on costs – that’s non-negotiable.
Q: What if the teams fail to agree?
MM: Well then we will do something. Even if they fail to agree some ideas may come out of their discussions which could be useful.
Q: What are you going to do next?
MM: Take most of August off.