APRIL 15, 2008
Thoughts from within the FIA
The FIA member clubs are not very forthcoming at the moment about their intentions towards Max Mosley, the disgraced president of the international automobile federation. Some believe that Mosley will be able to survive in office when the Extraordinary General Assembly meets in June and the media hype about his sexual adventures has died down. Others think that too many doors are now closed to him and this means that it is inconceivable for Mosley to operate in the role to which he currently clings. Some agree with Mosley that there may have been some kind of a plot against him, but most seem to accept that this is not really the point. He did what he did and he was caught doing it. Such activities are deemed to be unacceptable for a man in his position. Some blame him for damaging the reputation of the FIA by refusing to resign.
There is much discussion going on between the clubs, although most are remaining quiet so as to avoid further publicity.
There is no doubt that there is some frustration that the FIA Statutes do not allow for any swift action to be taken. There could be a rapid decision if someone were to suggest that Mosley has brought the sport into disrepute and call a World Council to make him answer that charge, but it seems that member clubs have now concluded that they prefer to deal with the crisis in a quieter way at the General Assembly, rather than trying to force Mosley out publicly.
The damage to the federation has already been done and there is no point in doing more.
Mosley and his supporters may be hoping that the time available will give them the chance to save his skin and there will probably be much lobbying taking place in the course of the next few weeks. Some clubs may feel that it is worth ignoring what has happened if they end up being promised a big international event. Others will not accept such horse-trading. It is hard to judge whether Mosley might survive by promising many things to many people, but it should be noted that those trying to unseat him are also likely to be making promises if it develops into such a competition.
Such is politics.
Having said that, from what we are hearing, the general feeling remains that Mosley has to go. There is, however, no great rush to find a permanent solution. What is now deemed to be needed is stability. There is only one year left of Mosley's term of office and for that period the FIA probably wants someone who is seen as a safe pair of hands. Mosley could be replaced as president but might continue to work to negotiate a new Concorde Agreement. This would give him the opportunity to do something positive for the federation to make up for the damage he has caused before he fades from the scene.
At 68 years of age, there would not be much future beyond that. Other lofty ambitions are long gone.
Whatever happens there will need to be another election in October 2009 and that will already be the focus for some of those inside the FIA who have their eyes on the top job.
The interim period would give the FIA the opportunity to decide what style of management it wishes to adopt and who would be best-suited to take on that role. Mosley is a hardliner and has often taken the fight to governments, teams and car manufacturers. This has been very effective, but the hardline approach has also had detrimental effects. Whether the federation likes it or not, there is little trust in the way it operates in F1. This may be only a part of the FIA empire, but it is the area with the highest profile and a significant financial input each year, with around $5m being injected into the FIA coffers from F1.
By getting caught in a humiliating scandal and by adopting a high-handed approach in relation to a resignation, Mosley has destroyed much of his credibility and much of what he has spent his career trying to achieve. He may want a successor with a similar attitude, but many FIA people do not. There are many intelligent people in the ranks of the FIA Clubs (with one or two notable exceptions) and there seem to be many who feel that a complete change of style and management in the years ahead is a good idea.
Some feel that this change of style is essential as the federation rebuilds its damaged reputation.
It may not make much sense to observers, who find it hard to understand how the federation can be seen to be doing nothing at all, but it may result in positive change in the future.