Three-time Formula 1 World Champion Nelson Piquet – never a stranger to controversy during his grand prix career that spanned from 1978 to 1991 – has said he is 'upset' with Max Mosley over the recent sex scandal allegations, but only because the embattled FIA President did not invite anyone else along to the party.
The Brazilian was always considered something of a playboy during his time in the top flight, possessing a tongue that is capable of veering sharply from the acerbic to the playful when talking about his rivals and contemporaries. Though he is one of only a handful of high-profile figures within the sport to speak out in support of Mosley, it is perhaps not in the manner in which the 68-year-old would like.
“I am very upset with him,” the father of current Renault rookie Nelsinho Piquet joked, speaking to Spanish newspaper AS
in Barcelona this weekend. “Very upset, because he didn't invite anyone to his party!
“Is there no-one in Formula 1 who has ever had a sex party?”
There were less lighthearted words, however, from Spanish motor racing federation president Carlos Gracia, a man who sparked uproar with his remarks in the light of the racism row that followed the abuse aimed at Lewis Hamilton during testing at the Circuit de Catalunya back in early February.
campaign in response to that was launched in Barcelona on Thursday, but Gracia – the highest-ranking official within the sport in Spain – said he was pleased Mosley had elected to stay away, and predicted the beleagured president would not survive the vote of confidence due to be held on his future in the FIA Senate in Paris on 3 June.
“I'm delighted that Max is not here,” he told the Associated Press
. “He's damaged the FIA a lot with this. The FIA is an entity that needs to send out an image of credibility.”
There were also concerns in Jordan, where Mosley is this weekend in attendance at the country's inaugural appearance on the World Rally Championship calendar. Citroën boss Olivier Quesnel admitted to The Independent
that he was anxious about the possibility of bumping into motorsport's top man.
“We understand that it is his private life,” Quesnel acknowledged, “but the problem is that everybody knows what is in his private life.”
Indeed, it has been another uncomfortable weekend for Mosley, who was embarrassingly uninvited to Israel [see separate story – click here
] after it emerged sports minister Galeb Majadle had been unaware of the lurid allegations when he had met with the president in Jordan. The retraction of the offer casts further doubt on Mosley's ability to effectively rule the sport, despite his insistence that he intends to remain in his role until the expiry of his current tenure in October, 2009.
“Once the scandal was brought to the minister's attention, he has requested to withdraw immediately any official invitation to Mosley until the matter is reviewed more thoroughly once back in Israel,” an Israeli government statement read.
The FIA subsequently issued a statement underlining that 'his invitation was not intended to be personal to Mosley himself, but rather to the representative of the FIA as a global organisation'.
Meanwhile, Mosley has spoken out to assert that he is not avoiding F1 races, despite having been requested not to travel to Bahrain by the Gulf state's royal family and choosing to stay away from Spain in order – it has been suggested – to avoid any potential embarrassment to King Juan Carlos
“I never had any intentions of going to Barcelona, because I had nothing to do there,” he is quoted as having stressed by the BBC
, omitting any reference to the launch of the EveryRace
“I only went to one complete F1 race last year. That was Monaco, and that was because I live there. I will be going to the Monaco Grand Prix [in May].”
He also re-affirmed his determination to battle to keep his job – despite innumerable calls for his resignation from the sport's leading teams, former drivers and motoring organisations around the globe – but added he would not be seeking a fifth term.
“My inclination is to stand and fight,” he re-iterated. “If they wish me to continue, I will continue; if they don't, I'll stop.”
F1's team bosses, meanwhile, remained tight-lipped over the subject during a meeting held in Toyota's motorhome during the Barcelona weekend, convened by the sport's supremo Bernie Ecclestone. All team principals save for Aguri Suzuki were in attendance, but the Daily Telegraph
claims that efforts to issue a joint statement on the matter were blocked by Ferrari – whose president, the urbane Luca di Montezemolo, is a key Mosley ally – Williams and Scuderia Toro Rosso (co-owned by Mosley's Monaco neighbour and close friend Gerhard Berger), all of whom said they could not commit themselves without further consultations.
That argument is at odds with the view taken by major manufacturers BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Honda, who all released their own statements in Bahrain three weeks ago expressing their distaste and severe disapproval of Mosley's actions. It is believed the teams are becoming increasingly angry at being powerless to do anything about the massively-commercialised sport into which they have invested millions being controlled by a man currently embroiled in a highly damaging sex scandal.