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Mosley and Dennis exchange letters over Suzuka stewards issue

FIA president Max Mosley circulated copies of a lengthy letter to McLaren Chairman Ron Dennis at Sepang, chastising him roundly a number of matters including what was perceived as his implied criticism of the Italian FIA steward Roberto Causo at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Prompted by an inquiry from a journalist, Dennis admitted that he was uneasy about the fact that there was an Italian steward at the race, the implication being that he was worried about possible partiality in favor of Michael Schumacher and the Ferrari team.

Mosley responded with a robust tract in which he asked Dennis in future "to think things through more carefully before expressing your opinions.

"Although I am sure you would not intend such a thing, your actions might also be seen as an attempt to intimidate our officials, something which is now a recognized problem in other sports. This all discourages new sponsors and new fans. Indeed at a certain level such conduct can be a breach of the International Sporting Code."

Mosley continued to suggest that Dennis write a letter of apology to Causo, but then launched into a further critique of the McLaren chief in connection with his attitude towards race director Charlie Whiting's driver briefing at Suzuka where he threatened heavy penalties for anyone who disrupted the race.

Mosley tried to draw an analogy between Michael Schumacher's obstructive driving in the 1999 Malaysian Grand Prix and David Coulthard's performance in the early stages of the 2000 US Grand Prix at Indianapolis.

"Some people might feel that what Michael Schumacher did to Mika Hakkinen in Malaysia verged on the unsporting," he wrote. "Others might claim that what David did in Indianapolis went a bit further. He had accidentally jumped the start and for all practical purposes was no longer racing Michael for first place, because a penalty was inevitable. Unlike Michael in Malaysia, he was no longer racing Michael for first place, because a penalty was inevitable."

His letter then continued to speculate on various scenarios whereby drivers from different teams could gang up to affect the outcome of the World Championship.

"It was the FIA's plain duty in the highly charged atmosphere of that race (at Suzuka) to take the precaution of issuing an appropriate warning at the drivers' briefing, if only to reassure all other competitors. This is what Charlie Whiting did."

Mosley then suggested that if Dennis did not like the way the current FIA F1 World Championship was run he should go away and start his own.

"What you should not do, however, is enter our F1 World Championship, on whose rule-making body you sit and whose regulations and procedures have been known to you for more than 30 years, and then undermine it by constantly complaining to anyone in the media who will listen."

Dennis responded by issuing a copy of a well-reasoned reply to the FIA President, but declined to be drawn into a lengthy debate on the matter with the media.

"As you would expect, I thought hard and long about the letter which Max wrote to me and chose to share with you," he said. "There were a variety of emotions which swept through me. Having thought carefully, I chose to provide a written response to Max which he received a while ago, and to provide you with a copy.

"I am sure there are many things I might say which would perpetuate this issue. I don't think it is either constructive to my relationship with Max, or with the FIA, or my position within motorsport. If I thought it was, I wouldn't hesitate to discuss it.

"I don't wish to comment other than that."

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