The end of the road for Max Mosley?

First he saw his personal life become public property. Now the Formula One boss is fighting to save his career

Max Mosley, the boss of Formula One motor racing, was fighting for his professional life last night after eight racing teams, including McLaren and Ferrari, said they intended to break away from the sport's mainstream and set up a rival series instead.

The 69-year-old head of the FIA governing body has been at the centre of an ongoing dispute over the capping of team budgets that yesterday plunged Formula One into the biggest crisis in its history. It is certain to overshadow this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Senior figures in motor racing have called for Mr Mosley's resignation, and a rift with Bernie Ecclestone, the other half of Formula One's most influential duo, may have widened irretrievably.

It marks the latest episode in a nightmare 15 months for the son of 1930s fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley. Just six weeks ago his 39-year-old son Alexander was found dead in his west London flat following a drug overdose. The restaurateur and economist was discovered by his cleaner wearing just his boxer shorts after taking a lethal combination of six different drugs. He had dined with his father just four days before.

In July last year Max Mosley won a High Court battle with the News of the World. He was awarded £60,000 for breach of privacy after the Sunday tabloid claimed an orgy in which he took part had Nazi overtones. Mr Mosley admitted to a sadomasochistic sex session with five prostitutes but vehemently denied the event had a Nazi theme.

But, as he confessed in court, the publicity surrounding the case was a source of severe shame to him. He described the episode as "totally devastating" for his wife of 48 years, and added he could think of "nothing more undignified or humiliating" for his sons to experience.

Critics say that his troubles have been of his own making. Mr Ecclestone, who initially stood by Mr Mosley during his very public legal battle, later declared that he "should go out of responsibility for the institution he represents".

Now a series of high-profile figures have called for his departure from the sport altogether. Eddie Jordan, the former team boss, said this week that "heads would have to roll" to save Formula One. Yesterday, Sir Jackie Stewart, the three-times world champion, was clear that Mr Mosley must quit.

"I think a lot of people are kind of fed up with the dictatorial attitude," he said. "It's been coming for some time. I think the teams feel that they have been bullied in some way for quite a long time, trying to force things through."

Mr Mosley remained defiant yesterday, saying his FIA would sue the F1 Teams Association (Fota), the coalition of teams planning a rival championship in 2010. He has insisted that a voluntary £40m budget cap for each team is the only way to avoid a "financial arms race" gripping the sport. Fota agrees that costs should be reduced but won't abide by Mr Mosley's conditions. That has prompted Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Toyota, BMW Sauber, Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso, and Brawn GP – for whom current championship leader Jenson Button drives – to take drastic action.

Mr Mosley has been in a similar quagmire before, having dragged Formula One back from the brink of collapse four years ago, when leading teams also threatened to walk away. With no obvious mechanism by which the teams can remove him, and a World Motor Sport Council meeting next week at which he may announce he intends to stand for another term, Mr Mosley is unlikely to go quietly, as some wish he would.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back