Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Max Mosley reaffirms his decision to stand down in October, backs Jean Todt as FIA presidential candidate

The president of the FIA, Max Mosley, has confirmed that he intends to stick with his plans of not seeking re-election for a fifth term in October this year, when his current term ends. In a letter written to all the FIA member clubs on Wednesday, the 69-year-old said that despite pressure from several members to run for re-election he has decided to step down after 16 years at the helm of world motorsport's governing body. He said that he now plans to spend more time rearranging his family life, after his son died earlier in the year due to a drug overdose.

Mr. Mosley has chosen to back the former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt as his successor. Even after standing down as FIA president, Max Mosley will still remain a member of the FIA Senate as all other former presidents. Although the new FIA president will be voted in by the FIA member clubs, as the outgoing president, Max Mosley has the power of making a recommendation as to who he thinks will be his best successor. Although former world rally champion Ari Vatanen has confirmed his decision to stand as an FIA presidential candidate in October's election, if Jean Todt were to stand as a candidate as well he would have a much stronger chance of winning with the current president's backing. The important thing is though, all around the paddock, Vatanen is clearly the more popular choice among the teams as they do not want someone with a former connection to a team to take over from Mosley.

Behind the scenes, Max Mosley suddenly going all soft and back-tracking on his comments of seeking re-election in October has a much deeper story. Some of the news media are reporting that Formula One's commercial rights holders, CVC Capital Partners and Bernie Ecclestone, were furious with all the debacle that was going on between the teams and the FIA. When an agreement was reached in Paris on the 24th of June, one of the deals of that agreement was that Mosley will not stand for re-election in October. However, after a couple of days, Mosley came out saying that he is now reconsidering that decision since he is angry with the way that FOTA outlayed the terms of the agreement to the media, and the fact that Mosley felt that the FIA's authority was being seriously challenged by FOTA. Then earlier this month, in a meeting between the FIA and all the current and new Formula 1 teams to discuss next year's regulations, the FOTA teams were told that since they were not officially part of the 2010 World Championship, they could not apply any voting rights to change the published regulations. This created another fall-out between FOTA and the FIA, bringing back the threat of a breakaway championship.

Now, simply put, what it seems like is that if FOTA were to break away from the current Formula One World Championship, they probably would not mind having Ecclestone and CVC on board with them. This is because CVC already owns the commercial rights to all the current tracks and also the television rights, thus making it easier and cheaper for the teams to launch their own championship. On CVC's part, it also makes sense for them since the massive investment they made in Formula One will still be recouped, may be just from a different named series. Also there is the fact that this potential breakaway championship would not have to be governed by the FIA, so the teams were pretty much free to do whatever they like as far as the regulations were concerned. Legally, if the teams and CVC got together and did decide to go through with this plan, the FIA could not do anything to stop them. That is what, I think, caused Max Mosley to take an about-turn on his stance he held firmly during this entire political saga. It is probably the same reason why he is now saying that he will not be standing for re-election.

For us fans though, I think it is safe to say that all this political bickering is now really over. The FIA presidential election will be a very interesting one to watch, as whoever will be taking office will be in charge of shaping up Formula One for the next several years. Before that though, we have a lot more racing to enjoy, the next one being at the Hungaroring in Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix in just over a week's time. Until next time, drive safely!

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