Mosley plan to step down could be tactical ploy

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The Independent Online

In a week of dramatic change in Formula One, Max Mosley, the president of the sport's governing body, the FIA, announced yesterday that he will not stand again for election when his period of office ends, a year prematurely, in October.

In a week of dramatic change in Formula One, Max Mosley, the president of the sport's governing body, the FIA, announced yesterday that he will not stand again for election when his period of office ends, a year prematurely, in October.

The son of the controversial British politician, Sir Oswald Mosley, and a barrister, he was instrumental in formulating the Concorde Agreement that brought peace between the manufacturers and the governing body in 1981.

In October 1991, Mosley ousted the bombastic Jean-Marie Balestre as president of the FIA and initiated widespread reforms.

Mosley has often courted unpopularity with his intransigence in the face of rebellion and disharmony among the teams. In 1994 there was a strike in Spain after he arbitrarily limited aerodynamic devices in the wake of the fatal accidents to Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna. Unmoved, he went on to a signal triumph as he rallied the sport, placated world governments, and implemented significant improvements in safety. He also obliged sceptical manufacturers to take EuroNCAP crash tests far more seriously.

More recently, Mosley threw a firecracker among the teams with the draconian technical changes he is determined to push through to curb lap times.

Jacques Regis, head of the Fédération Française du Sport Automobile, which is organising the troubled French Grand Prix, attacked Mosley recently.

"He needs to change his policies," Regis said. "He lives in his glass bubble and makes decisions by himself. They are certainly of a high level, but they ignore all those on the ground. A federation is an association of clubs and this federation must defend the interests of those clubs. I am not alone in thinking this, but perhaps I am the only one saying anything. Mosley pays no attention to the organisers of races and spends too much time with the teams."

In the FIA General Assembly yesterday it is thought Mosley was defeated in an attempt to change the constitution of the federation, and this followed an 18-5 vote against his proposed changes in karting at the world motor sport council meeting on Tuesday.

Mosley, 64, may have regarded that as lack of confidence in his leadership, but that is unlikely. He is not given to self-doubt. It remains to be seen whether he retains his unbreakable links with the FIA Foundation that he formed with the money paid by Bernie Ecclestone for a 100-year lease on the sport's commercial rights, and whether a forthcoming merger with the US International Touring Association might propel its president, Robert Darbelnet, into candidacy to replace him.

An insider suggested yesterday that Mosley's motivation was that "enough is enough", and that he was "sick and tired of trying to work with people who won't listen" - the teams, presumably. This could all be an elaborate scare tactic, a timely spot of sabre-rattling.

If Mosley really does go in October, it will have far-reaching effects throughout the sport. But, back in 1994, Flavio Briatoreha returned from a meeting during the Spanish strike to declare: "Mosley is dead." It would not be the first time that his demise has been widely exaggerated.

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