Despite peace finally having seemingly broken out in F1 following the resolution of the FIA/FOTA civil war that threatened to tear the top flight quite literally in two, it appears teams are still a little incredulous and unconvinced that Max Mosley will actually see through his promise to relinquish the most powerful and influential role in international motor racing come October.
Though he is adamant that his departure at the end of his current and fourth term in the post was 'planned, agreed, arranged' long before the conflict over his controversial budget cap initiative and autocratic and arbitrary manner of governance came to the fore, the FIA President's decision to step down has been viewed in some quarters as part-and-parcel of the eleventh-hour deal that saved the sport from the biggest schism in its history. If only some could believe that he will really go.
Mosley has held the position since 1993, and after previously announcing back in June, 2004 that he would stand down that October, he was subsequently persuaded otherwise when the FIA Senate asked him to stay on. According to The Times
, one team principal responded to the question about whether the Englishman was truly going this time with a cutting: “Only when I see the stake through his heart.”
On face value, at least, the development – with Mosley immediately handing over the responsibility for liaising directly with the teams to Monaco Automobile Club President and President of the FIA Senate, Michel Boeri, though he will retain a certain say in matters – means the 'Max and Bernie' show is over, in reference to the long-running Mosley/Ecclestone double-act credited with having turned F1 into the global success story that it is today.
Both men have ruled with a rod of iron, though ironically it is understood to have been the Formula One Management (FOM) commercial rights chief executive who had the final word in persuading Mosley to go, in the interest of protecting the sport given that in the absence of a satisfactory compromise the Formula One Teams' Association rebels planned to finalise their vowed 'breakaway' series the very next day, in the knowledge that the 'point of no return' had been reached. That crisis was averted – but only, it is contended, thanks to Mosley's acceptance that he had to go.
Whilst the Englishman has suggested that F1 is now set for a period of prolonged peace and stability and 'a bright future where they (the teams) can make good profits', paddock cynics point out that such concepts have always been relative and transitory in the world's most glamorous sport, with off-track politics bubbling never far from the surface and frequently threatening to explode.
With inflated egos and bitter rivalries, the next dispute never seems far away, and though the regulations are now on paper fixed until at least 2013, those in the know argue that controversy and intrigue will not be silenced for long. It is also mused that now FOTA has achieved its goal, the dissenting teams' unity may swiftly disappear as on-track tensions get in the way.
“The sport itself is intrinsically controversial, unstable, political,” one senior team source is quoted as having said by Reuters
. “I think it is the nature of Formula 1 that creates this situation.”