Jean Todt is being lined up to replace Max Mosley when the current President of the FIA either steps, or is forced, down - that is the overwhelming view in the Formula 1 paddock as the latter's D-Day is now less than five weeks away.

A vote of confidence in the FIA Senate in Paris on 3 June will determine whether Mosley must resign over the recent sex scandal, or else be allowed to remain in his role until the expiry of his fourth term in October, 2009 - something he has repeatedly insisted he firmly intends to do.

When he does relinquish his grip on the most powerful position within the sport, former Ferrari team chief Todt - one of the few high-profile figures within F1 to publicly back Mosley - is widely believed to be the man being groomed to take over. Both the BBC and The Times have reported that the Frenchman is 'a lock' to assume the role.

That would also explain Williams' unwillingness to sign a statement calling for Mosley's resignation in Barcelona last weekend. All of the eleven teams in the top flight met in the Toyota motorhome in the Circuit de Catalunya's paddock - at the behest of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, it is believed - in an effort to compose a joint statement demanding the embattled 68-year-old step down.

Whilst Red Bull's refusal to put its name to the agreement was perhaps no great surprise - with owner Dietrich Mateschitz being a close friend of Mosley's - the similar resistance of Williams, said to have infuriated Ecclestone, is a little harder to fathom. It has been suggested, however, that neither Sir Frank Williams nor Patrick Head would sign the statement as both are sternly opposed to Todt becoming the Englishman's successor.

The Times also suggested that, rather than attempting to force his old friend and business associate's hand, Ecclestone was in fact doing Mosley a favour with the meeting by 'flushing out the opposition and support' for the FIA President. Both Mosley and Todt are expected to attend the Monaco Grand Prix next month - the former's first public appearance in F1 since the News of the World's damning front page expos? on his private life just over four weeks ago.

According to F1SA, he has also engaged the services of an expert investigative company in an effort to uncover the source of the surveillance that led to what the News of the World called his 'sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers' coming to the tabloid newspaper's attention. In July he is set to take on the Sunday red-top in the courts - seeking 'unlimited damages' for breach of privacy - and has always vigorously refuted any 'Nazi connotations' to the matter.

It is believed the covert investigation into his private life, however, was actually conducted at significant expense over a long period of time by a third party, with German publication Auto Motor und Sport suggesting the aforementioned source could even emanate from within the grand prix paddock. Mosley is also said to have commissioned the British private detective outfit Quest to carry out surveillance on the prostitute who blew the whistle on his activities.

A French judge, meanwhile, has ordered all newspapers in the country that have published pictures of Mosley with the prostitutes be recalled, stressing that any publications that fail to comply would face a EUR1,500 fine per infraction.

Whilst insisting that the FIA President's personal life deserved protection under privacy laws, Judge Joel Boyer was forced to concede that he could not restrict French access to the News of the World's online video because it was not within his power.

"The mere fact that this site is accessible from France, like all others on the web, is not enough to justify French jurisdiction," Boyer said. "Sexual practices between consenting adults are among the most intimate aspects of private life, with its element of shadow and mystery that no one should be forced to explain to a third party."



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