Before anyone gets carried away by the thought of a peaceful resolution to the ongoing power struggle between Max Mosley and the F1 team organisation FOTA, the FIA president may have thrown a spoke into the works with an extraordinary written outburst against Ferrari's Luca di Montezemolo.
According to Reuters
, Mosley has demanded a public apology from the Italian, who also acts as FOTA chairman, and has claimed that he could rethink his decision to stand down as FIA chief in October should it not be forthcoming. This is depite the stepping away from power being understood as one of the key points in both sides agreeing to move forward in unison rather than seeing F1 ripped in two by their dispute over rule changes, budget caps and the general governance of the sport.
In contradiction of what Mosley claimed had been a deal with Montezemolo 'to present a positive and truthful account to the media', the president has revealed that he was shocked to learn that FOTA had been briefing the media on its own terms, including suggesting who may succeed him as head of the FIA. He accused Montezemolo and FOTA of 'falsely suggesting' that he had been forced out of office - the 69-year old prefers to suggest that he agreed to step down as a token gesture towards preserving F1 - and would have no role in the FIA after October. It is widely believed that Mosley will seek to remain involved in another capacity, one that his critics have claimed will still allow him to have some control over the sport.
"You have suggested to the media that I was a 'dictator' [see story here
], an accusation which is grossly insulting to the 26 members of the World Motor Sport Council who have discussed and voted all the rules and procedures of Formula One since the 1980s," he wrote in a missive seen by the news agency, "If you wish the agreement we made to have any chance of survival, you and FOTA must immediately rectify your actions.
"You must correct the false statements which have been made and make no further such statements. You, yourself, must issue a suitable correction and apology at your press conference this afternoon."
The letter was sent before Montezemolo and other F1 team bosses met in Bologna on Thursday, and no such apology has been issued. FOTA is alleged to have suggested that Automobile Club de Monaco president Michel Boeri will replace Mosley when the FIA crown is handed over. Mosley, however, insists that Boeri, currently president of the FIA Senate and a WMSC vice-president, will have to be approved by the wider FIA membership, and would not rule out former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt taking over from him - a move that would be unpopular with the majority of teams given the Frenchman's links to the Scuderia [see story here
"At least until October, I am president of the FIA, with the full authority of that office," he added, "After that it is the FIA member clubs, not you or FOTA, who will decide on the future leadership of the FIA."
However, it is the claim that Mosley now considers 'my options open' that will alarm those who had believed - and hoped - that the F1 divide had been bridged.
"I was astonished to learn that FOTA has been briefing the press that Mr Boeri has taken charge of F1, something which you know is completely untrue; that I had been forced out of office, also false; and, apparently, that I would have no role in the FIA after October, something which is plain nonsense, if only because of the FIA statutes [which grant former presidents a place on the senate
]," the president fumed.
"There was no need for me to involve myself further in F1 once we had a settlement [and], equally, I had a long-standing plan not to seek re-election in October. It was therefore possible for me to confirm both points to you yesterday. [However], given your and FOTA's deliberate attempt to mislead the media, I now consider my options open."