Mosley slams brakes on breakaway as McLaren set the pace in practice

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The Independent Online

The head of Formula One's governing body spent much of his afternoon providing the media with his version of events since Indianapolis, at pains to outline the inherent strength of the governing body and its worldwide reach into the automotive industry.

There was also a warning how difficult it would be for any rival candidate to defeat him when he comes up for re-election in October. Under the current regulation, much of which was revised by Mosley earlier this year, any candidate must first of all represent their national sporting authority but must also present their entire government: two deputy presidents for the FIA's mobility and sporting departments, plus seven vice-presidents each for mobility and for sport. In other words, it is going to be very difficult for anyone outside the FIA to storm the citadel, and it is unlikely that any challenge will come from within. Mosley is fond of pointing out that the FIA is a much bigger organisation than it looks to outsiders.

The chances of a breakaway championship - provisionally called the Grand Prix World Championship by the manufacturers who formed a company of that name - seem more remote by the day, and even the diehards within the rebel teams admit this. Back in the winter of 1980-81, Mosley, together with his cohort Bernie Ecclestone, had all the teams and most of the circuits on his side as they set up the proposed World Federation of Motor Sport during the war against FISA, as the FIA's sporting arm was then known, and its autocratic chief Jean-Marie Balestre. They even staged pirate races in South Africa and Spain, but it was only when Balestre blinked that they avoided defeat, and out of that conflict came agreement where the FIA ran the sport and Ecclestone handled the commercial side.

Mosley poured scorn on the idea of a new breakaway series. "I think the thing will repair itself. We have done a proper survey, and that told us things we didn't know, such as that the public are more attached to the technology than I am personally. The teams are, to be blunt, not serious. They have no survey, no rules, just a few discussion points after six months.

"Now they can have a look at the set of rules we are proposing, and they can make some constructive comments. If they do that's good, we'll incorporate them. If they don't, we will go ahead and finalise these rules by the middle of September and vote them through before the end of the year and those will then be the rules for the 2008 world championship. In the course of this process, the teams will come to see that this is probably not just the most sensible way of going forward, but the only way."

Disparaging the concept of a breakaway series, Mosley continued: "Of the six manufacturers in Formula One, if we have a breakaway I should think certainly two, maybe three, would stop. They'd just say this isn't what we came into Formula One for. So when it actually comes to it, the teams won't do it. It's wrong of me to say that because it sort of winds them up and makes them even more puffed up, but the fact is that these big companies will not do that because it's financially viable at the moment with a single championship."

Mosley insists he is prepared to compromise. "We want the racing to be closer, more overtaking, safety to improve, drivers to have more opportunities to show their skills. How we achieve that is open to discussion. If they have other suggestions, let's hear them."

It all sounds reasonable but there is still a perception Mosley could have done more to save the Indianapolis race. Small wonder Formula One's interminable politics again overshadowed an otherwise slow day.