Max Mosley has finally admitted what many have suspected for a long time - Ferrari is held in higher respect by the FIA than grand prix racing's ten other teams.

The president of Formula 1's governing body was asked in an interview with the official F1 site whether Ferrari was more important for the sport than other teams.

"Yes," he replied. "Firstly, because it holds a historically important position, as the team has been involved in Formula 1 since 1950. The second point has something to do with existential orientation; imagine there were only one British team and all other teams were Italian, that the commercial rights-holder was Italian, as was the FIA President, the race director and his assistant and the sport's commissioner. Wouldn't it be understandable that this team would be very careful?"

Although there have long been many who consider there to be one rule in F1 for Ferrari and another for everyone else - as evinced only last week by former world champion Damon Hill in light of the punishments meted out to McLaren this year - Mosley insisted all decision were made from an entirely neutral standpoint, and underlined the importance of 'protecting' Ferrari's vulnerability.

"I use my neutrality with a huge amount of responsibility and stay in close contact with Ferrari to assure them that no British 'mafia' or cartel tries to take advantage of them," he stressed. "But should we find it necessary to impose our technical or sporting regulations, then Ferrari is treated like any other team. Should we find irregularities on a Ferrari - like the moveable floor after the Australian Grand Prix - it is removed and banned."

In the same interview, Mosley also acknowledged the fact he has a very different relationship with McLaren boss Ron Dennis to the one he shares with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.

"[Ron and I] phone once in a while," he said. "Personally I have no problems with Ron, but otherwise there are differing positions. With di Montezemolo it is different. He is chairman of Fiat and president of Italian business lobby Confindustria.

"I have known Luca longer and therefore better than Ron. Indeed I've known Ron since 1970, but I became really acquainted with him at the end of the eighties, whereas I have known Luca very well since the beginning of the seventies. My relationship with him is very personal."

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