Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has insisted that he has 'no doubt' his long-time friend, ally and business partner Max Mosley will 'honour all the things he's ever said he will do' and step down from the most powerful and influential post in international motor racing later this year – arguing that the FIA President is 'a trustworthy guy'.
As part of the 'peace deal' reached between F1's governing body and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) at a World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) reunion in Paris on 24 June, Mosley agreed to leave his position at the end of his current fourth term in the role in October. However, just two days later the Englishman seemed to backtrack on his vow, revealing that following FOTA and Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo's hailing of the end of dictatorship in the top flight and overwhelming pressure from FIA member clubs for him to stay on, he newly considered his options to be open.
Mosley demanded an apology from di Montezemolo, but none has been forthcoming, and citing a lack of respect from both the Italian and FOTA in what he claims was an effort to paint the outcome as a victory for the teams and defeat for the FIA, the 69-year-old's volte-face
has plunged F1's united front back into turmoil once more and re-awakened the threat of a manufacturer-spearheaded breakaway series in 2010 [see separate story – click here
]. Ecclestone, however, is confident Mosley will not stand for election again – and that a breakaway will not materialise either.
“I have no doubt in my mind,” assured the sport's commercial rights-holder, speaking to British newspaper The Times
as he tried to keep a lower profile than normal in the Nürburgring paddock this weekend in the wake of his highly contentious, much-publicised and regretted Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein comments seven days ago.
“As long as I've known Max, he's always done what he said he would do. He's an honourable person. I've always said Max can have a cheque signed by me, without any name or amount on it, because he's a trustworthy guy – so I have no doubt that he will honour all the things he's ever said he will do.
“He said his options are open, but he didn't say what they were going to be, did he? He was a bit upset after agreements had been made to be quiet and not throw stones at each other, and then remarks were made which upset him.
“There are probably a couple of people in all the teams who would like to see [a breakaway] happen, but no, I don't think it will happen. I think people realise that the Formula One World Championship has been going for 60 years, it is well-established [and] we've got the best circuits in the world. I don't think they've even thought through really how there could be a breakaway.”
Though controversial former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt is seen as Mosley's 'chosen one' to succeed him – even if the Frenchman would likely be a rather less popular option amongst the teams, some of whom consider the FIA to already be biased towards the Scuderia
– respected 1981 World Rally Champion and four-time Dakar Rally winner Ari Vatanen has similarly thrown his hat into the ring after receiving requests from member clubs.
“The time has come for a change,” the Finn urged. “My main focus is to reconcile views within the FIA and bring transparency to its stakeholders. The duty of the president is to defend a billion automobilists and the great sport of ours.”