Mosley stays away as pressure builds for public censure

While the Formula One circus was in Barcelona, the sport's beleaguered president, Max Mosley, chose to visit Jordan for the first Middle Eastern rally since 1976. In his absence his campaign to stay on as head of motorsport's governing body, the FIA, despite the recent sex scandal, ran into further difficulties.

For the first time there was evidence the teams are debating whether to make a united public comment of censure, and the fact that Bernie Ecclestone discussed the concept of such a letter with Mosley at a meeting of team principals on Saturday morning suggests that Mosley might be considering his options.

The meeting broke up in acrimony, for reasons not wholly associated with the willingness to sign the letter, and the majority of teams are said to be in favour of such action.

That development followed strong comments from Carlos Gracia, the head of REFA, Spain's motorsports federation, in reference to the EveryRace anti-racism campaign whose launch this weekend Mosley might have been expected to attend. He had instigated the campaign in response to abuse suffered by Lewis Hamilton in Barcelona in February, so it was odd that he said: "I never had any intentions of going to Barcelona, because I had nothing to do there."

"It's not the best moment to do something anti-racism with Max involved," Gracia said. "I'm delighted that he is not here. I think he's done a great job for the sport. But under the circumstances, his attitude and personal life has caused major damage to the FIA's image. It's the president's job to give off a certain image."

Nor did Gracia pull any punches as he offered his view for the governing body's future.

"I think the FIA need a definite change. Everything needs to be stabilised. It will be very hard for him to survive this. He's damaged the FIA a lot with this. They are an entity that needs to send out an image of credibility."

Galeb Majadle, Israel's minister for science, culture and sport, also withdrew an invitation for Mosley to visit the country to discuss the future of motorsport.

Mosley responded: "I fully understand the minister's position and look forward to resuming contact with him when the News of the World's deliberate and calculated lies have been comprehensively refuted."

He will, however, attend the Monaco Grand Prix, where he is usually drawn into holding some sort of press conference.

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