Formula 1 Insight

Max and Morality

It would be reasonable to think that, given the general distaste for Max Mosley amongst the fans, the allegations against him by the News of the World would have set the F1 world alight with joy at the possibility of his imminent departure. Yet F1 sites (including this one) have been slow to pick up on the story for many reasons.

Max Mosley

Most obviously, judging by the reputation of the source of the story, wisdom dictates that it be taken as dubious at best and we await further developments, rather than leaping to conclusions. The F1 media are unused to dealing with this sort of event anyway, it being more the standard fare of the political scene. It may be that we prefer to see the sport in a vacuum, with its personalities' personal lives shielded from too close an inspection; many reactions have reflected this with the idea that what a man does in his spare time is his business alone.

Yet even the closed world of F1 has been infected with curiosity as to the lives of its heroes and villains - we are not averse to chuckling over Kimi Raikkonen's drunken escapades in a gorilla suit, for instance, nor do we avoid mention of Ron Dennis' separation from his wife or Pedro de la Rosa's presence at the birth of his daughter. But the NOTW story confronts us with more than we really wish to know.

I have seen it suggested that, had the participants in this particular alleged cavorting been dressed in bunny suits rather than Nazi uniforms and prisoner dress, all would be well - and it is true that the echoes of Mosley's father strike a very unsavory note. Yet, even without that element, the allegation represents a serious obstacle to Mosley's continuing tenure as president of the FIA.

The irony is that Mosley's assumption of the high moral ground over such matters as the alleged McLaren industrial espionage leaves him with little excuse now that he might have been shown to be less than perfect himself. I felt at the time that he was sticking his neck out to a dangerous extent, although I expected it would be the courts that eventually cut it off. That may still happen but it looks as though he may have made himself a more immediate date with the executioner.

Because he cannot stay if the story is true, regardless of whether Bernie Ecclestone considers it to have been a bit of fun. No man is perfect but we prefer our leaders to at least put on a decent moral front; Max has effectively blown his cover and loses all credibility if the NOTW has not invented the whole thing.

No doubt the matter will be the subject of a lawsuit and we might have to wait for the outcome before any great changes are made. But it does raise the question of who should replace Mosley if he has to go. Already the suggestions begin to multiply, most of them unlikely in view of the FIA's closed election system. I have mentioned before in this blog that Alex Wurz would make a fine president but I do not fool myself into thinking that he has any chance whatsoever. The sad fact is that F1 enthusiasts will not be consulted in the matter and the FIA will probably opt for Todt or Piccinini - never mind that they are obviously compromised by vested interests.

Before this season began, many were the hopes expressed that this time the year would not be soured by events off the circuits. It seems that those hopes have been shattered already. Any publicity is good publicity, they say, but I cannot help but wish that the sport be allowed to subside into unremarked anonimity again. Remember that? When we were anoraks devoted to watching cars being driven quickly in fierce competition and no-one cared what initials the governing body had assumed that particular year.

Still, I bet there'll be some great Max jokes coming out in future...


Peter Boyle
I just hope Maclaren have not handed over the
25million non-prize fund part of the fine yet.

If so they should hold out and dare a successor to uphold
Max's demonstrably impaired judgement.
Date Added: 31/03/2008

An interesting thought, Peter - but I don't think it's really Ron Dennis' style. He has taken the medicine doled out by Max in his pride and arrogance - now let Max swallow the same.
Date Added: 31/03/2008

Steven Roy
I don't know what happes in the event of a resignation. Does Piccinini take over the rest of the term? No doubt he takes over until an election can be organised anyway. Alianora no doubt has her rule book out right now assuming she can't actually recite it.

I think Bernie's comments are the most interesting aspect of the whole thing. Knowing Max he may have done it as a joke. Quite incredible and quite revealing of both men's characters.

A lot of people who climb high mountains fall off. But if anyone is stupid enough to claim the moral high ground with this in their background they deserve to land with a big bump.

It struck me as strange reading the Balestre obituaries that the FIA has had consecutive presidents with facist backgrounds. There must be the odd democrat somewhere in the FIA.

We need someone of sound morals who is respected in all quarters to take over short term. I wonder which half-wit would be suitable?
Date Added: 31/03/2008

John Beamer
Clive -- I've said the same in Ollie's blog but just because the story is from NOTW that doesn't discredit it. These days you'll find just as many false stories in the Times or Telegraph.

In fact it isn't too much of a stretch to argue that NOTW has done some of the finest investigative journalism in recent times.

Either the NOTW has been duped in a massive scam (unlikely) or Max is in serious trouble.

By the way I don't normally care what indivudals do in their private lives but as a leader you have a responsibility to set an example. If you indulge in this sort of idiotic behaviour than you have to be prepared to deal with the consequences if the sordid details surface. The Nazi context adds an ever darker ring and for that alone I don't see how he can continue.
Date Added: 31/03/2008

I would think that, if Max has to step down, Piccinini would be acting president until an election is held. What would be the point of having a vice pre... (oops), a second in command otherwise?

Bernie's comments strike me as being more ludicrous every time I read them. He has said some very odd things recently and I am beginning to suspect that age is finally getting to him. If he thought that dismissing the affair as "a bit of fun" would defuse the situation, he really has lost touch with reality.

You may well be right about NOTW, John - I wouldn't know, not having even seen the paper for many years, let alone read it. But I referred to its reputation, which does not necessarily have anything to do with the truth. Anyway, we do well to take anything printed in the newspapers these days with a pinch of salt, just as you say. I would have been just as as wary of the story if it had first appeared in the Times or Telegraph.

As the day wears on, it seems to me that Max will have to go, whatever the facts in the matter. If it's true, he has lost credibility and will no longer be able to function effectively;if it is not true, he must sue the newspaper and that could take a long time - in the meantime, motor sport cannot continue with a president whose morality is under question. Were this actually a business, he could be suspended, as Mike Coughlan was, until the facts are known, but it is not. The FIA should be looking for a replacement as from now.
Date Added: 31/03/2008

I'm kind of torn here. On the one hand, I can't help thinking that what goes on between consenting adults in private is nobody's business but their own. As far as I can tell, there is no suggestion that any crime has been committed.

On the other hand, if the allegations are true (and let's not jump the gun. The NOTW's sister paper the Times is currently being sued by the FIA over remarks Martin Brundle made about the Mclaren 'witch hunt) I can't help thinking that he simply can' t continue to be the public face of the sport. Given his family background, the Nazi uniforms are just too much. (Freudians would doubtless have a field (Marshall) with it all. Those who get all high and mighty about bringing things into disrepute....
Date Added: 31/03/2008

Indeed so, Patrick - it may be a case of "hoist with his own petard". And, whether it's fair or not, it has always been the case that public figures are shot down for matters that might seem of no great consequence were they the failings of the common man. There is a price to be paid for privilege, it seems...
Date Added: 31/03/2008

Christine Blachford
Whilst it always should be live and let live, you have to say that being a respectable public figure in a position of relatively high power comes with some responsibility.

The President of the FIA just shouldn't get caught in a situation like that, whether it means abstaining or just being more careful about it.
Date Added: 31/03/2008

That's the operative word, isn't it, Christine - "respect". Without it, you can have whatever title you like and yet be ignored. I understand that Mosley is saying that he will stay on regardless but it is no longer in his hands; if the sponsors and advertisers decide that they do not want to be associated with a sport run by a figure of ridicule, even Max's buddy, Bernie, will have to join with the forces against him. The man cannot continue as FIA president.
Date Added: 31/03/2008

now that i've finally stopped laughing hysterically and stopped singing "instant karma" i've just got to wonder if he'll be able to show his face in bahrain. lest we all forget, many of the new venues are not located in countries that could ever possibly be described as hot beds of liberal attitudes. especially where sex is concerned. which is of course one of the premier reasons he has to finally go.

bernie should never have bought him that ilsa she wolf of the ss dvd for christmas last year.
Date Added: 31/03/2008

LOL Vera, the first Max joke. ;)

From what I hear, he has opted to brazen it out, so he might well be in Bahrain this weekend...
Date Added: 31/03/2008

Alianora La Canta
In the case of a resignation, there is a full election organised, generally in October of the year in question (though there is provision to organise an Extraordinary General Meeting to hold this type of election earlier). However, the winner of the election is only there in a caretaker role until whatever time the election would usually take place. The two-term limit that applies to all FIA presidents after Mosely will apply.

Although Piccinini does in fact carry the title of Deputy President, constitutionally he can only fill in for the President temporarily. He would have control between the resignation and whenever the election result was held. His powers would be limited in the same way they would be if, say, the absence was due to Mosely going on a day trip to the local beach with a good book. He could not then ignore the result of the election.

It isn't necessary for the FIA president to have perfect morality. However, it is necessary for the president to be trusted to run the FIA as well as possible. Due to the serious doubt engendered by the last few years of Max's tenure, I can see this scandal toppling him. Not because of the incident itself, but because it is the nearest convenient lever for the enemies Max has made through his previous acts in post.
Date Added: 31/03/2008

Well, it looks as though there's going to be a battle to get rid of him, Alianora - he won't go easily. And that will not be good for F1, as dogged by scandal and lawsuits as it has been for a long time now. I think he has to go, whether voluntarily or by force - and he will only make things worse by hanging on desperately.
Date Added: 31/03/2008

Pink Peril
I really don't see any way Mad Max can continue - even if the allegations are false. Afterall, sling enough mud, some of it sticks. (Plus I don't think they could be. Murdoch may be a lot of things but he is no fool, and I predicted that Mad Max would have met his match in Ole Rupe awhile ago, did I not?)

He has insulted Jewish and German people greatly with his actions, not to mention the misogynistic nature of his "romp".
And I think any person knowing his family background would agree that this was in appalling taste. If you must have your S&M games, why bring the Nazi connection into it? Says more about his mindset than anything else, I think.

I also beleive that the Americans will not look kindly on this little adventure, and therefore be unwilling to deal with him, as will a number of Muslim nations. Spells doom on a few races, which Bernie will be none too happy about.

And since Australia makes every single person coming here get a visa - and one can be refused on character grounds (as is the case with the USA also) - I am not sure if Mad Max would even be allowed entry to some nations ! Hardly a glowing recommendation for the President of the FIA. Bernies response to the matter also leaves a LOT to be desired, and points towards him needing a (jack)boot up the erky as well (does that count as a Max joke, Clive?)

Lets just hope the FIA don't replace him with Jean the Toad or some other Ferrari flunky. I would seriously have to consider turning my affections elsewhere if that where the case.
Date Added: 01/04/2008

The prospect of Max's successor is a bit sobering, Peril. Good suggestions abound but none of them are within the sights of the FIA, I think. Perhaps we should hope that F1 gets lucky and they pick a good one by mistake...
Date Added: 01/04/2008

Number 38
A dream come true or a nightmare? It's too bad it takes an incident like this to dislodge MadMax. I've oft heard it said "ANYBODY but Max", be careful what you wish for.
Date Added: 02/04/2008

In hindsight, Number 38, it was always going to take something like this to get rid of Max. He has made the position of FIA president almost unassailable and was seriously considering another term.

As for his successor, we await developments on that score with trepidation, of course. We have some good suggestions but I have no doubt we won't be heard.
Date Added: 02/04/2008

Lordy, Lordy, I finally go on holiday, and look what happens while I'm gone! I'm not usually one to take great Freude in someone else's Schade, but this time I'll make an exception and do a little dance. I have never called Ma a Nazi, but I have taken every opportunity to describe his tactics as resembling a fascist, so I am frankly not surprised that in his private life he fantasizes about reliving his Father's Brown-Shirt days.

I don't have time to comment at length now, but I will say that now would be the perfect tome for fans to put together some form of statement, a manifesto, if you will, and let the incoming President get a sense of what the fans expect from "our" sport.

I also put my support behind Paul Stoddard as the next President. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules, is a true F1 fan (he headed Minardi. 'Nuf said), and is neutral as far as the teams are concerned. He has the respect of most team leaders because he has equally earned it and pissed them off. There won't be any favourites played in his tenure.
Date Added: 06/04/2008

Welcome back, Arnet! And a fistful of good ideas you bring with you. Love the bit about taking Freude in someone else's Chade.

There have been many good suggestions for a replacement for Max, Paul Stoddart amongst them, but first we must see to the business of getting rid of Max. He is fighting hard and convincing some...
Date Added: 06/04/2008

It is no surprise to see that Max will fight as hard as he can, but that's in his psychological make-up. There is an inherent belief in this personality type that their "version" of reality is not only the right one, but the only one. I'm afraid our hapless leader is about to get a rude awakening. There is no way that, even if he can somehow stack the deck in his favour, he will get a breath of respect or support from those in F1 that matters, and let's face it, it's F1 that matters, not Moto Gp or any other form of racing. He is dying by the sword he wielded in the forum he chose to battle in.

It goes beyond the spectacle of his role-playing, however offensive it is, and anyone who has any connection to the events alluded to in the video, whichever "side" they or their ancestors were on, should rightly be offended. What it goes to, which I am sure you have alluded to but I haven't had the chance to read through your last posts, is the moral "high ground" claimed by Mosley. His position has been decimated and so should his job. He is now a laughingstock. Bill Clinton never claimed to have never received oral sex ever in his life. Max claimed to have no inclination towards his father's philosophy, despite being instrumental in the attempted revival of his father's Fascist party, including considering running as an MP representing it.

I can only hope, for his wife's sake, that he doesn't parade her in front of the press in in a "stand by your man" humiliation.

Buh-Bye Max!
Date Added: 06/04/2008

Agreed, Arnet. But it is unlikely that we'll get a "stand by your man" scenario from Jean Mosley. They have not lived together for years, apparently, and she stays well away from any publicity at all.
Date Added: 06/04/2008

I know you're no fan of Rubython, Clive, but this is a good read and gives some insight into the Max and Bernie show.
Date Added: 06/04/2008

Actually, I like Rubython's style, Arnet (presuming you are the mysterious "a") - he has a very compelling air of authority about his writing that may be spurious at times but is very entertaining even so. I just feel that we need to be aware that some of what he writes is pure speculation, rather than the inside knowledge he makes it appear as.

I read the Mosley article a while back and found it interesting - but have been cautioning people to take it with a good dollop of salt too. I'm sure that there is truth in some of what he says but, equally, there are some huge assumptions. For instance and looking at what we do know, his assessment of the McLaren hearings is pure nonsense. Sounds good, doesn't bear close inspection.
Date Added: 06/04/2008

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