Prior to the eleventh-hour peace deal that saved F1 from splitting irrevocably in two, the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) was just a day away from making its schism with the FIA permanent and formally launching its 'breakaway' series, it has been revealed – as the international media has cast doubt upon Max Mosley's insistence that he was not forced out of his position.
The World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) meeting in Paris on Wednesday was due to be followed by a FOTA reunion in Bologna today (Thursday), at which the eight 'rebel' competitors had been expected to announce that the point of no return had been reached, and that in the absence of a satisfactory resolution to the budget cap and governance stand-off, the rival manufacturer-spearheaded breakaway championship was going full steam ahead.
Following the compromise struck between Mosley, F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone – who the former praised for having 'contributed a lot to the agreement' – and FOTA and Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, however, that threat was successfully staved off. Ecclestone confessed afterwards that the whole dispute had been 'silly'.
“In fairness to Max, he wanted to leave last year and I asked him not to go until things were sorted out,” the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive told British newspaper the Daily Mirror
. “People forget he achieved a lot in his time.
“They forget the positive and concentrate on the negative. We've been friends for 40 years. He understood the sport and we knew how to do things together.”
Former triple F1 World Champion Niki Lauda contended that there had been 'no winners or losers, just a good compromise', whilst Spanish motoring federation President Carlos Gracia told the Diario AS
newspaper: “Both sides had to come to an understanding. It was not so complicated [that] there was no option – it had to be solved.”
Whilst it is hoped that the FIA/FOTA agreement will bring a measure of much-needed stability back into the sport, however, the international press has speculated that Mosley's departure was not – as he made out – of his own volition [see separate story – click here
newspaper argued that the 69-year-old Englishman had been 'sacrificed' and 'forced out', with The Guardian
suggesting his departure was part of a deal 'to appease [the] dissident teams'. The Independent
, meanwhile, characterised him as 'Mosley the martyr', with El Mundo
claiming that F1 had been 'saved by Mosley's surrender'.