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DATE News (chronologically)
06/27/09
f1
Mosley: They danced on my grave too early
Mosley returns to job as head of FIA.  Will he find a way to disgrace Ferrari and di Montezemolo before he leaves office in October?
On Wednesday evening, Max Mosley poured himself a glass of wine at his home in Monaco and sat back with a profound sense of relief.

The breakaway which had threatened the existence of Formula One motor racing had been averted, the rebel teams led by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo had stood down and the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button would remain stars on the grand prix circuit for years to come. But with the arrival of a new day came a rude awakening. And, for Mosley, whose 18 years on the front line of F1 politics have been anything but dull, it was as though the peace deal hammered out between the warring factions had never happened.

For Mosley woke to read his own obituary in English, Italian and French as commentators across Europe declared that the president of motor sport's governing body, the FIA, had been swept from power by forces allied to di Montezemolo.

Ferrari's president had returned to Bologna from the meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council in Paris, who sanctioned the peace deal on Wednesday, to report: 'We have toppled the dictator.'

Elsewhere, those briefing for Ferrari's allies within the rebel Formula One Teams Association insisted that Michel Boeri, president of the Automobile Club de Monaco, and a member of the WMSC, had taken over Mosley's F1 role.

It was enough to send Mosley, 69 but not a man to take kindly to reading of his own demise, back to the barricades to reconsider his side of the peace deal - an agreement not to seek re-election as FIA president in October.

As Mosley confirmed last night in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, Formula One's much-vaunted peace deal had lasted for just one day.

'They made the mistake of dancing on my grave before I was buried,' said Mosley. 'It's no good the teams getting a PR agency to claim I am dead and buried when I am standing here as large as life. I am under pressure now from all over the world to stand for re-election.

'I don't actually want to. I feel I am a little bit too old. When I started I was old enough to be the father of the younger Formula One drivers; now I am old enough to be the grandfather of some of those driving today. Although I don't feel old, I must seem very old to them. It definitely needs somebody new from that point of view.

'Generally, when you have done something for 16 years, as I have done, it's about time to stop. You get a little bit stale.

'I do genuinely want to stop. But if there is going to be a big conflict with the car industry, for example, with the FOTA teams, then I won't stop. I will do whatever I have to do. It's not in my nature to walk away from a fight.' Last weekend, in the build-up to the British Grand Prix, Mosley antagonized the rebels by calling them 'loonies'. Last night, he claimed he had not meant to be offensive.

'That was in the context of saying there are two wings to FOTA,' he explained. 'There are moderates from Brawn, McLaren, possibly Red Bull and BMW; then there are the extremists - Ferrari, Renault and Toyota. I could have called them ultras, but loonies sounded better and made us laugh.'

Whether di Montezemolo will find Mosley's dismissal of him last night as a man who believes more in style than substance amusing must be in doubt.

This is a bitter and poisonous battleground. Neither Mosley, whose style of governance is detested by most F1 teams, nor di Montezemolo, a 61-year-old multi-millionaire who has ambitions on a career within the maelstrom of Italian politics, are men who back down easily.

Mosley does not dispute that, in return for a compromise agreement with the rebel faction, who had accepted a deal to slash their costs over the next two years to a level not dissimilar to the £40 million budget cap proposed by the FIA president, he would not seek re-election in October.

But he claims, privately, that he had already divulged his intentions to stand down to the F1 rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone.

What hurt Mosley was the triumphalism of his opponents. 'By going home to Italy and telling the Italian media that they had toppled the dictator, di Montezemolo has tried to make it sound like I sit here and just decide what's going to happen,' said Mosley. 'It's absolutely not true.

'I can't do anything unless the WMSC agree and there are 26 members, mostly presidents of important motor sport clubs from all over the world. All these rules that I am supposed to have dictated have been voted on by those people. To say that I run a dictatorship is nonsense.

'I could have had a quiet summer. In private, I had made it clear I was not going to stand for re-election after 16 years as president of the FIA, having already been president of the sport's then governing body, FISA, for two years before that.

'On Wednesday, we had a joint press conference where Bernie, Luca and myself all said completely the right things. The FOTA teams had got the deal they wanted, which is freedom to agree among themselves the level of the cost cap.

'Providing they could strike an agreement with the Williams and Force India teams, who had already made an unconditional entry to the 2010 world championship, and the three new teams, it was a done deal. There was nothing left to argue about.

'But then Luca couldn't keep quiet. It was also being said that I wouldn't be involved in the FIA after October. All of which was simply untrue. As a former president, I automatically have a seat on the senate of the FIA.'

Mosley does not expect di Montezemolo to recant. And he dismisses his enemy as a 'bella figura', a follower of the Italian philosophy that sets great store by style, but whose detractors criticize it as being somewhat short on substance.

'I don't really expect Luca will apologize or withdraw in the way that he should,' said Mosley. 'Yet, on the other hand, within the motor sport world nobody takes him seriously. He's seen as what the Italians call a "bella figura". He's chairman of Fiat but the serious individual who runs it is Sergio Marchionne, and I don't suppose he takes much notice of Luca.'

The problem, says Mosley, is that his rival's words have been taken too seriously elsewhere. 'When di Montezemolo comes out with things that are picked up internationally, when people in the UK, for example, read this, they tend to believe it,' he said.

'And when FOTA say all this nonsense about Boeri replacing me, that also tends to be believed. I think once we have all that put to bed and the teams come back to the deal we did, then I will be happy sticking with the deal we made. I am working on FIA matters from my office in Monaco. It is business as usual.'

Mosley claims to have received huge support from member clubs of the FIA, the constituency who saved his career last summer with a vote of confidence after his unconventional sex life was revealed by a newspaper.

Mosley says the clubs are interpreting the attack on him as an assault on their organization. 'Complete lies have been told,' said Mosley. 'That was obviously very annoying and not just for me.

'It has given the impression to the member clubs of the FIA that the car industry had dictated who the president could be and what the president should do. That caused uproar. Once a year we have a general assembly where all 132 countries belonging to the FIA endorse what has been done.

'If someone is unhappy with what has been done, they would say so and we'd have a vote. I don't have the power to dictate. I only have the power to execute the decisions that the WMSC have taken.' Mail Online
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