Formula 1 Insight

Max Writes a Letter

I was going to leave Max alone today but it has struck me as strange that no-one has yet examined Max's letter of "apology" to the FIA in any depth. The generally easy acceptance of so much of the letter demonstrates that we need to interpret the lawyer-speak a bit more deeply. The whole thing is an exercise in diverting attention from the facts and focusing instead on an irrelevancy. Let us have a look at it.

Max Mosley

"From information provided to me by an impeccable high-level source close to the UK police and security services, I understand that over the last two weeks or so, a covert investigation of my private life and background has been undertaken by a group specialising in such things, for reasons and clients as yet unknown. I have had similar but less well-sourced information from France."

First paragraph and the lawyers set up the decoy by introducing a counter-allegation. Never mind that this is irrelevant and unproven, we are supposed to be indignant that some person or organization has dared to take a look at Mosley's personal life. Amazing as it is that the UK police have nothing better to do than ensure that Max's dirty little secret be undiscovered, the fact remains that any public figure must expect that his private life be inspected and had better ensure, therefore, that he keep well away from anything remotely unsavory.

It is no mitigation that the man has been caught with his pants down through some form of private investigation - it happens and, if Max is that bothered with it, let him pursue the matter; it is no excuse for what he has done.

"Regrettably you are now familiar with the results of this covert investigation and I am very sorry if this has embarrassed you or the club. Not content with publicising highly personal and private activities, which are, to say the least, embarrassing, a British tabloid newspaper published the story..."

Pardon me for pointing it out, but it is not the investigation that has embarrassed the FIA - it is Max's sordid behavior. Note the cleverness of Mosley's lawyers, however:

"...with the claim that there was some sort of Nazi connotation to the matter. This is entirely false."

That last sentence is a masterstroke, ambiguous in its application as it is. Does it refer to the Nazi allegation or to the whole paragraph? In four short words, Max manages to throw doubt on his apparent admission of guilt for anything at all. But it is hogwash too. He may have succeeded in getting the videos and still photos removed from the News of the World article but the horse has already bolted - plenty of people have seen them and know that, not only were the participants dressed in Nazi uniforms, but at least one was attired in concentration camp pajamas.

No connotation to Nazism? Only a denial of the whole episode would do and Max has patently failed to provide us with one. Ergo, the video and photos are genuine.

"It is against the law in most countries to publish details of a person's private life without good reason. The publications by The News of the World are a wholly unwarranted invasion of my privacy and I intend to issue legal proceedings against the Newspaper in the UK and other jurisdictions."

Your business, Max, not ours. Good luck with it. Bernie doubts that you will have any success there, however.

"I have received a very large number of messages of sympathy and support from those within the FIA and the motor sport and motoring communities generally, suggesting that my private life is not relevant to my work and that I should continue in my role. I am grateful and with your support I intend to follow this advice."

Okay, so the FIA delegates continue to support Max - who would have expected otherwise? The views of others who have called for his resignation apparently do not bear mentioning or taking into account.

"I shall now devote some time to those responsible for putting this into the public domain but above all I need to repair the damage to my immediate family who are the innocent and unsuspecting victims of this deliberate and calculated personal attack."

Just about every blogger on the net has seen through this one. It should not be necessary for me to point out that it is Max's behavior that has damaged his family, not the alleged investigation.

"You can, however be certain that I will not allow any of this to impede my commitment to the work of the FIA."

Well, we shall see. It might be difficult for Mosley to commit to his job at the FIA if he no longer has it.

I have seen it suggested that Max come clean, admit his fault and apologize properly, just as he demanded from Ron Dennis last year, and I would not disagree with that. The notion that forgiveness would follow such an action is rather more problematic, however. It is all very well to say that one's private life has no bearing on one's ability to function effectively in one's job but, when that job includes making moral judgements and initiating such things as Racing Against Racism, it appears that Max has demonstrated his unsuitability for the task.

Some have argued that having Nazi fantasies does not automatically make one a Nazi. That may be so, although it is a debatable point, but it is clearly not a good idea for the leader of an international organization to be known to indulge in such things; the taint of this episode must inevitably affect the way Mosley is viewed in many of the countries where the FIA functions as the arbiter of motor sport.

The honorable thing would be to resign but it looks as though Max is not prepared to take that route.


I have refrained myself from making any comment anywhere about this matter so far as I am not sure myself on what is my stand. On the one hand it is personal affairs of an individual and on the other, some of the actions have great repercussions to the office he holds. So i am going to stay silent.

The only thing i am deeply concerned about right now is the thought that Max could use his office of power to introduce radical and deliberately controversial changes to the way the sport is governed to divert attention. Only a controversy of a greater measure can divert attention from another. Knowing Max as we all do, i am not putting this line of thought beyond him which makes me very very concerned about the sport in the short term.

Date Added: 02/04/2008

I do not blame you at all for wanting to stay clear of this one, Uppili; it's a sordid business and is merely made worse by Mosley's determination to stay. It does the sport no good, despited Bernie's delight in the extra coverage it gains. It is the wrong sort of coverage and can only further reduce F1 to a mockery.
Date Added: 02/04/2008

Steven Roy
"I have received a very large number of messages of sympathy and support from those within the FIA"

I think this should read as I have received messages from people I hand-picked for the FIA gravy train.

Not being as clever as Max I need somone to explain to me how he is going to take time to sort the mess he has made of his private life without it interfering with his FIA duties. I imagine that if she is still speaking to him his wife will be demanding a considerable amount of his time and this will limit his ability to carry out his FIA duties. Similarly his escapade has caused problems for the FIA which need the President's involvement to sort out.

As soon as it became clear that this was genuine I was reminded of David Coulthard's remarks on joining Red Bull when he turned up for an interview in a T shirt and unshaven. Asked why his appearance had changed he said that with Red Bull he only had to consider how Mateschitz felt about anything whereas at McLaren he had to think about how anything he said or did played out in all the countries and cultures involved with that team. Max's behaviour may not be palatable to us but in reality there is little here that is genuinely shocking or new. It may be new for Max to be involved but that is it. On the other hand in many of the countries and cultures involved in F1, motor sport in general and in the other activities of the FIA these events will be considered shocking in an altogether different level.

A thought occurred to me on the drive home. When Nigel Stepney said he knew where the bodies were buried we assumed he meant at Maranello......

I love a conspiracy theory. I have started dozens.
Date Added: 02/04/2008

Quite so, Steven - Max's position is untenable, as far as I can see. It really would be best for all concerned if he left the stge and busied himself with repairing the damage he has done to his marriage.

Talking of Stepney, however, we have hardly begun to see the twists in the tale that he might reveal. I am quite looking forward to the publication of his book.
Date Added: 02/04/2008

Alianora La Canta
I didn't even know Max was married until this scandal got going. In that context, his actions are unjustifiable. The points various people have made about it being much more difficult to be credible in certain countries and the Racing Against Racism are true (lucky for Max that he didn't take my suggestion and broaden it to "Racing For Ethics"!) However, that isn't going to unseat him, since the people who he regards as being in his constituency (i.e. the 222 members of the WMSC) do not appear to be pressing him to resign. Max has also never been perturbed by logical contradictions, so for all I know, he might think he can get an extra hour or two a day to use to sort out the fall-out. Still, I think this could be the start of a snowball effect. Max has enemies and they can use this as a lever to gradually persuade the WMSC to vote for somebody else next election.

I have to say though, that he's lucky he's not married to me - I don't think I'd've let him back in the house after that act of infidelity. Jean Mosely's loyalty to her man is considerable and deserves some kudos.
Date Added: 02/04/2008

Good points, Alianora. I find it interesting that Max has omitted mention of Jean, preferring to refer vaguely to his family. Perhaps some intrepid "investigative reporter" should try to get her thoughts on the matter...
Date Added: 02/04/2008

Very good entry, Clive! I just read Balfe's editorial piece over at Pitpass, saying that they aren't doing in-depth coverage yet because Mosley has made no admission of guilt yet, and therefore is still innocent until proven guilty. Take note that he is saying this not only because of FIA accreditation, he really believes in what he is saying:

Any thoughts on it, Clive?
Date Added: 03/04/2008

Pink Peril
I wonder how Max thinks he can perform his role as the FIA President adequately, when apparently the Bahraini Royal family have requested he not be present this week?

As to the letter - its just weasal words. The lack of a categoric denial just reaffirms my original beleif that it is 100% Mad Max in the pictures.
Date Added: 03/04/2008

Björn Svensson
Well, i have to admit that your way to look through the lines and behind the words of Max's letter are really entertaining, Clive. And, i'm sorry if you find this comment as if i try to throw your case on the scrapheap, but some of your interpretations are really out of line.

I do understand that you really want him out of the way, but some of the things said here are just not justified by the facts given. The only proof we have seen of anything nazi, comes from the "News Of The World"-newspaper.

Of course i agree that what he did is wrong, especially considering that he is married an have a family and other relatives to show some respect to. I doubt he can ever again regain that.

I have also read Chris Balfe's article on what's going on, and i have to say he really have found a weakness in the case against Mr. Mosely.

I actually think that what Chris says have alot of weight in it. Of course we should not throw stones on anyone just because we dont like him, or because an editor at a tabloid newspaper wants us to.

I honestly think, after seeing the film on youtube a couple of times, that there's actually nothing that's so much out of the ordinary in it that Max has to go just because of his sexual fantasies.

And listening to what's being said in the film, i can't find anything more than the dominatrix giving orders to Max and the other girls of what they should do to make her happy.

So, all in all, i would not judge Max because of what he did, atleast not until i see a transcript of the film, or the actual 5 hour of filming, where i can se and hear that there have been Nazi tendencies used and expressed.

But still, i think what Max did was really not the way i expect a leader of a multinational organisation to set a good example of what to do with your spare time.

I really don't mean to be meen to you, i just thought i should say what i think of it all. This is really so big a mess, that no one can tell the truth but Max him self. Let's hope he decides to do so, sooner rather that later.
Date Added: 03/04/2008

I sympathize with Balfe's unwillingness to jump to conclusions, Journeyer, but he is missing two important facts. Firstly, Max has admitted everything but the Nazi aspect. So we must accept that the video and photos are genuine.

Balfe's long and involved argument regarding the Nazi uniforms is true as far as it goes - I saw no Nazi symbols either and, if that were the full story, Max could probably get away with saying that it was the usual black jacket, leather boots stuff. The big problem is that at least one of the girls was dressed in a replica of the standard concentration pajamas of that terrible time. How you can separate that out and say there is no Nazi connection is beyond me.
Date Added: 03/04/2008

The letter is an attempt to admit that the story is true, with the exception of the Nazi connection, Peril. By introducing the idea of a plot to discredit him, he is trying to throw attention away from his admission (and he has succeeded in doing that with Chris Balfe, it seems) and cast blame upon whoever initiated the investigation.

I don't necessarily believe that his story of a concerted plan to investigate his private life is true but let us for a moment suppose that it is. That would mean that he must have been under surveillance for some time for his habits to be established - how else would the investigator (meaning private detective) know where to be and at what time to film his approach to the "club"? So we must then face the fact that this is not just an isolated incident - it must be part of Max's routine.

And all this is irrelevant anyway. If Max is aggrieved at the invasion of his privacy, let him get on with suing those responsible. It does not excuse or mitigate his behaviour, however, and the method of his being caught matters not to us.

As you say, Peril, his position is no longer tenable and he should resign.
Date Added: 03/04/2008

You are always welcome to put your views here, Björn - I'm not always right, you know!

But, in this case and as explained in my reply to Journeyer, I don't think the "nothing Nazi" argument holds up because of the concentration camp dress used. I really cannot see how else white pajamas with black stripes can be explained. If Max can do it, fine, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Date Added: 03/04/2008

i think you're exactly spot on about this letter. i admit when i read the excerpts i did i couldn't help but think dick cheney had given him a hand with it. they both have the same infuriating ability to completely skew the entire point...and truth.

okay, so most of us honestly could not care less what max gets into on his off hours. and there's no denying the concentration camp connotations. by the time i got home mon. the only thing still up were bits and bobs on various sites but what was there, the lice inspection, striped garb,et al it was pretty obvious this was not just who's a naughty boy being played out. oh, of course i looked. it's like a train wreck, you just can't help it...and honestly i never knew how much i really have detested this guy until i found myself sort of taking delight in his "come uppance" as we say here.

the thing is, there are a whole lot of people out there-like f1's entire new emerging market- who are conservative about pretty much everything. it's not that they really care but that it has been made public. honestly, what heads of state or sporting council- even in the european countries -are going to want to have a photo taken of them shaking hands with max?

what really has me baffled is there are sponsors and manufacturers who trade on public opinion. why are they so quiet? it worries me that everyone may actually be afraid to voice active criticism in case max actually does manage to tough this out and put them in the way of some extra stringent rule enforcement and scrutineering. if that is the case he definitely needs to go. when one man has that sort of arbitrary power over everyone and everything involved in the sport it has ceased being a sport. any ideas on why no one seems to be pushing for a resignation?

max's private life ceased being his own as soon as the video hit the net. and did it never occur to the president of the most tech oriented form of motor sport that electronic devices are getting smaller and smaller every day? cameras can be hidden in cockpits, helmets, wings...corsets...

i've loved your mad max posts in the past but, thinking back on them....they do seem a bit prophetic.
Date Added: 03/04/2008

I didn't see this one coming, however, Vera. Somehow it's always the thing we never thought of that springs out of nowhere and gets us.

As regards the team owners, sponsors and advertisers, I should imagine that they would prefer Max going with as little fuss as possible - no sense making a lurid and unseemly splash about it. So they will be quietly letting their views known behind the scenes in the hope that Max will see reason and go of his own accord.

I think they must be thoroughly fed up with his tenure by now and, if he won't budge, they will get more vocal until finally he has no option. How long can he stay when the majority of the big players have made clear that his time is up? It's pretty much the same as a vote of no confidence in government.
Date Added: 03/04/2008

I think you are dead right Clive and that Mosley's position is now completely untenable. The rights and wrongs of the situation notwithstanding, the whole weight of opinion against him has reached a critical mass which he will find almost impossible to fend off forever.

For me, one of the most interesting developments of the afternoon, hot on the heels of the manufacturer statements this morning, is Joe Saward's latest post on I've long been an admirer of Joe's journalism and his willingness to offer an opinion. Basically, it comes down to this - if Mosley genuinely does have the best interests of the sport at heart and the sport is now being seriously damaged by his behaviour, then even he must know that the right thing to do is resign. He would then be free to pursue whatever legal action he wanted against the News of the World.
Date Added: 03/04/2008

Hehehe, while you were writing this, George, I was busy commenting to the exact same effect on your post on the matter! We will see how long it takes for Max to give up - I'm reckoning it will be later rather than sooner (assuming that "immediately" is the baseline for "sooner").
Date Added: 03/04/2008

I'm not sure it will be sooner - this latest announcement from the FIA looks like the talk from Mosley remains decidely 'fighting'.
Date Added: 03/04/2008

Delaying tactics - and still trying to make the investigation of his private life the point, rather than the fact of his dirty little secret. Like all dictators, he will try to hang on until the bitter end.

But this time it won't work - the manufacturers want answers and they want them now.
Date Added: 03/04/2008

Number 38
Am I going to be the first to ask........was this video taped
session his FIRST time? What bad luck, to crash on the first lap.
Date Added: 03/04/2008

I don't see how it could have been his first time, Number 38. The video begins with his walking down the street and turning into a basement apartment. To get that, the cameraman must have know his habits and been ready for him - he had probably been watching Max for quite some time to see if there were any patterns to his behavior.

My guess is that Max was a regular at this particular establishment...
Date Added: 03/04/2008

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