Max Mosley, the head of the sport's world governing body the FIA, was fighting back yesterday following Wednesday's demand from assorted automobile clubs round the world for him to resign.
Twenty-four clubs called for him to step down ahead of next week's vote of confidence that follows allegations regarding his private life for which he is suing the News Of The World for libel and breach of privacy. But yesterday he maintained that he has no intention of resigning before the vote, which will take place at an extraordinary general assembly in Paris on Tuesday.
Other clubs, he said, were "overwhelmingly in favour of my remaining as president. I therefore had no choice but to submit the question [the vote of confidence] to the FIA membership as a whole. I certainly could not have simply ignored the majority and resigned."
The clubs calling for his resignation said in a letter that his refusal to go before he is pushed could damage the sport and its governing body.
"We strongly believe that the only respectable way forward for the FIA, and for yourself, is to have an orderly transition, with an immediate agreement and your commitment to step down," the letter states.
"The FIA is in a critical situation. Its image, reputation and credibility are being severely eroded," the letter read. "Every additional day that this situation persists, the damage increases. There is no way back."
But Mosley, whose term of office lasts until October 2009, said any "suggestion of a crisis is "nonsense".
He added: "Although I am personally embarrassed and greatly regret that this affair has become public, no one fails to call for roadside assistance because of it."
Mosley – who says he will not reapply for another term beyond next year – refused a compromise deal allowing him to stand down in November which would guarantee him victory in next week's vote. That has led the clubs to accuse Mosley of putting his own interests ahead of the FIA's.
But Mosley described the suggestion as "the worst possible solution. I would have resigned, yet still spent the summer carrying out all the day-to-day work with neither the time nor the authority to complete the major outstanding tasks.
"Better to stop immediately than accept this muddled compromise."Reuse content