Wounded Mosley hits back

As FIA president Max Mosley continued to ratchet up tensions in the Formula One world, the Fota teams yesterday maintained a diplomatic silence on their future plans, which might yet include a breakaway championship.

After the peace agreement hammered out between Mosley, commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone and Fota president Luca di Montezemolo at the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris on Wednesday, in which Mosley agreed to step down when his term of office ends in October, Fota vice president John Howett said: "The federation is an independent body with its own constitution, and it will be their business who they elect as the future successor to their president.

"From the teams' point of view, we would like to see somebody who actually is independent, if you like, perhaps independent from any of us currently or historically."

But Mosley has chosen to interpret as derogatory comments attributed to Di Montezemolo in the Italian press, that he is a "dictator," and the general belief that he suffered a humiliating defeat, and in the absence of an apology from Di Montezemolo vowed on Thursday to rethink his plan to retire.

On Thursday night, another letter from Mosley, this time to the World Motor Sport Council, was leaked. He warned the council to brace itself for more turbulence, claiming that Fota's suggestions about him being forced out, and the FIA selecting an independent president, are signs that Fota are set on dictating the sport's governance.

"It is disappointing that Montezemolo did not keep his part of the bargain," he wrote. "I had anyway decided not to offer myself for re-election next October and, given what I have had to contend with during the last 12 months, I needed a peaceful summer before starting a more leisurely existence.

"The compromise we found was therefore acceptable to me personally and seemed in the overall interests of Formula One. But when Fota falsely claimed that they had ousted me and imposed their will on the FIA, the situation became intolerable.

"No doubt we face a difficult period. This may well result in short-term problems in Formula One. It is possible that Fota will set up an independent series. That is their right, provided they do so under the International Sporting Code."