Interview with FIA President Mosley, Part II

Part 2 of 6 Max Mosley interview transcript Question: Jean Todt suggested that there was no way they could supply engines, and there are so many debts as well, of course. Mosley: Well first of all you've got to pay off last year's money.

Part 2 of 6
Max Mosley interview transcript

Question: Jean Todt suggested that there was no way they could supply engines, and there are so many debts as well, of course.

Mosley: Well first of all you've got to pay off last year's money. Ferrari are going to say if you don't pay, we're not going to give you an engine. That's what the liquidator said. Then they probably will want money on account, and then might not have the engines anyway. I don't know. I just suspect that if somebody had unlimited funds, I suspect they could be in Australia.

Question: Do you know of anybody with unlimited funds?

Mosley: No. I don't believe there's anybody on the horizon.

Question: So it's more likely to be the 48 million dollars then?

Mosley: Yes. I think it is.

Question: What about companies like General Motors, Volkswagen? Have you had indications about them?

Mosley: There have been no serious inquiries from any of the major manufacturers, but there is constant interest, there's a dialogue going on, but there's no reason to suppose they are about to come in.

Question: What is the technical situation at the FIA in relation to the administration of a possible new series by the manufacturers in 2008? Would there be a seamless transition in the FIA's role?

Mosley: I think if that were to happen, you would almost certainly have two series because I think whoever, at that stage, owned the rights to the Formula One World Championship, would run the FIA Formula One World Championship and they would get engines from somewhere and they would get teams, even if it was only Formula 3000. And we would be under certain obligations which we are under. At the same time, we would regulate the new series. Under our system it would be an international series, like there are many others already, which we would regulate, which we would put on the calendar, providing it was safe and all the rest of it. In the worst case… if you don't get a deal, you will get a split and when you have a split, in the end, somebody wins and somebody loses and it just destroys everything. We've seen it in America but as far as we go, we would regulate the new series and we would obviously fulfill our obligations under the existing mandate. But I think in real life this would never happen, there would be a deal. It's very easy to say that‘ I'm going to do whatever in 2008'. I think that the reality is that the single championship is so much more valuable than the sum of the value of two championships that there is no way a deal is not going to be done, because there is so much scope for the negotiations. They can't fail to come to an arrangement and as there are another five or six years to go, there's obviously going to be a deal. It's just a question of what the deal is. My own bet would be that we will see a deal within the next 12 to 18 months.

Question: If the Kirch Group goes broke, this could mean that the Formula One rights are hawked around like a packet of chips?

Mosley: Yes, that could happen. Up to a point, we have a right of veto, we still have the‘ Don King clause' in there. It's not that simple. They can't just go off and sell it.

Question: What about Murdoch?

Mosley: Interesting. And of course, somehow, I don't see that happening but I might be wrong, but quite genuinely, if somebody did acquire the whole thing from Kirch, our first objective would be to work with them, provided we have sensible people to work with, we will work with them. In the end, we just want a very very good successful championship. Whoever bought it would really want the same thing, so there shouldn't be any great difficulty.

Question: Some of the people I've spoken to say that there needs to be a deal done before the start of the season.

Mosley: Relating to Kirch? I don't think that's the case. I think the manufacturers' calculation is that Kirch desperately needs to do a deal, that he's under pressure at the moment, and I'm not sure that that's necessarily the case. You see, people close to Kirch, if you suggest he's in trouble, say that he's been like that for 40 years. He's always run his business on the edge, he really has. The way the whole of that thing happened is extraordinary, starting off with Morgan Grenfell and so on. Extraordinary story.

Question: What do you think are the prospects of the World Rally championship in its televised form?

Mosley: I think it could work. What I like about it is that the view from those cars is hardly ever through the windscreen, it is always through one side window or the other, and particularly on the snow, when you see the on-board camera, you can actually see and live with what they're doing. You can really understand what's happening. I don't know if anybody's had a go on the PlayStation. I'd never had a go on it, but they had one in Monaco. Can you imagine, I'd never touched the thing? I was made to sit down in front of all the journalists… obviously I turned the thing over in no time, but with that funny steering wheel thing, you can absolutely feel it, you feel the understeer, the oversteer, you can feel the vibrations. It's so realistic. I got off it and asked Richard Burns‘ it's much more difficult than the real thing isn't it?' and he confirmed that it was. I think it's going to be a huge success. I don't think it will damage Formula One in any way. It's so different. It's not like oval racing where there's some sort of relationship, the cars are vaguely similar and it is a close circuit. It's ordinary cars or apparently, on open roads, they have to be road legal to get from one stage to another, there's a passenger, there has to be. You can associate with it, it's got so many elements that people can associate with. I once went for a ride with Colin McRae up in the forests and I must say, it was very very impressive, but at a certain point, to my surprise, he said‘ why don't we swap seats?' So I found myself driving this World Rally car, and he was completely calm. I didn't really know the way so a lot of the time I was going at what the police would call an inappropriate speed and all he would say was‘ I think this one's a bit tight', meaning‘ you'd better slow down!' I thought I was going like hell, but then I watched the video afterwards and he was impressive, but then there was this pathetic old boy pootling along. And you suddenly realize what the difference is between…The only difficult thing was starting. It's like starting a racing car, you forget what you're doing and you stall it. And everybody is standing around. So the second time you remember that it's got turbos and limiters and stuff; the thing to do is to wind it up and you drop the clutch and shower everyone with stones and take off like a rocket. Colin said afterwards‘ if we go on like this there's going to be a big crash.' Of course, we didn't. After that, it's incredibly easy to drive, except the gearchange is funny because it's up on the dashboard, but the feel of the car, the way it slides around on the gravel, to drive it slowly is very easy. It's like all racing cars, what's difficult is driving them quickly. The other thing they do is if they get into a big slide, all of us would lift off. They just floor it and rely on the four wheel drive to pull them out of it. It's extraordinary. I think they are amazing drivers. So I think rallying is going to be a big success. I think that if David Richards keeps on at it and doesn't have problems of any kind, it should be a really big big success.

Question: Do you think that he can manage both Formula One and the World Rally championship?

Mosley: Yes, in a way it's probably good that he's doing both, because he simply cannot get too involved in either team, which if he's going to run the World Rally championship commercial side, it's better that he doesn't. Whereas, if he just had the Subaru team, he might be too involved in the team. Now, everybody knows is that he's pretty independent.

The first thing I said to him about BAR was‘ are you going to sit on the pit wall with the headphones?' because that to me is the great test. And he said he was not, so if he doesn't and he has a sporting director, he keeps back a bit, but keeps an eye on it. I think he will probably be very successful.

Question: He seems to have the same entrepreneurial spirit that you recognize in Bernie, hasn't he? One of the few people….

Mosley: He has a completely different sort of approach to Bernie but demonstrably successful. Prodrive is big business. David is very very good. There's no reason why he shouldn't build the World Rally championship into something that is as commercially valuable and successful as Formula One, no reason at all. If he

does that, he will become very rich. I doubt if he will get as much out of it as Bernie managed. That was a bit special…

Question: Could he buy the rights for 100 years?

Mosley: We are negotiating with David. We currently have a deal with him until 2010, just like in Formula One, and the plan is to change it into a 100 year deal and we have the understanding with the European Commission that we will do that within a reasonable period and that's all part of the deal with the European Commission, that we will divest ourselves of the rally commercial rights for a very long period, just like Formula One. We are well down the road with that. In fact it's more our fault than David's that it hasn't made more progress but we're well within the time frame that we've agreed with the Commission.

Question: So now you've got this war chest, what are you going to do with it, the foundation, your long term plans?

Mosley: Well we've moved the whole lot into the foundation. We've got 313.6 million dollars, that was from Formula One, and we put 300 of that into a foundation, and the foundation of the board has 11 people. The chairman is Rosario Alessi, he used to be president of the Automobile Club of Italy. He's no longer in that position, he's finished his term. He's the chairman, and various other major figures, more from motoring than from motor sport. We divided the 300 million into three funds and we've got three fund managers looking after the three and we anticipate being able to spend about 10 million Euros a year and it's going to be mainly on safety issues to do with motor sport and also the roads, lot of road safety things. We're talking to the World Health Organisation about a worldwide campaign and also various other international organizations, which means we've got a bigger road safety budget than the EU which is actually quite good. And so, for example, what are we working on at the moment? We're finishing off the FIA crash helmet. We're looking at safety to do with safety fences and things of that kind in Formula One. We're pursuing crash testing in ordinary road cars. We've got a whole stack of projects in 2002, all of which are under way for which we have put the money aside already. And then we will be looking at applications from all over the place for different programmes of one kind or another.

Question: Does car jacking come into your remit?

Mosley: It could do. It's not something we've looked at. We haven't had an application or anything to do that but it's clearly becoming a problem.

Question: Concerning Silverstone: how long is it going be before we see the circuit reconstructed?

Mosley: I don't know. You will have to ask them. Because our immediate priority has been to try and get the traffic flow in and out. It's not purely altruism. It's just that the image for motor sport, the way it's been run, is so bad. Octagon have got all sorts of plans for improving the circuit, and the message they're getting from us, and also from Bernie, is first the roads, then the public, then the team facilities. What they're actually doing, beyond the roads, I don't know.

Question: It is a fact that it's one of the few circuits in the world that doesn't have permanent facilities in terms of grandstands.

Mosley: Some of the stands are permanent, aren't they? The thing is, you'll have to ask Bernie. I know that's always the great get-out but I actually don't know what the plans are. As far as the stands are concerned, whether they are safe or not is the local health and safety, so we don't really get involved. To be honest with you, I didn't realize they were still semi-permanent.

Question: What's the situation about other potential Grands Prix in other countries; are they coming and going?

Mosley: As far as I know, the Moscow one seems to be getting quite serious. There are some very serious projects in the Middle East. The problem is that we are at the limit. There really should be 16 and we're still running on 17, so we have to lose one or two.

Question: What are the ones at risk in Europe?

Mosley: The one that was a little bit on the end of the rope was Austria, but that's now calmed down. Spa? Only if there's a big problem over the tobacco. You see on the tobacco front, everything's building up to 2006 being the last year, and we are seeking international agreement on that. The World Health Organisation is on board, the Australians have done that, which is really south-east Asia. I think it's probable that the EU will move their date from July 2005 to 2006. If Belgium maintains their 2003 date then they would come off until we get to 2007 when everybody will be no tobacco, and of course if you're out for three or four years, you might not come back. But they do know that and Belgium, of all places, is not the most obvious country to be completely out of step with the rest of the EU. Assuming that the dates get moved we think it probably will.

Question: Is Moscow really serious; aren't there problems?

Mosley: It does depend who one talks to, but of the ones being talked about, that seems the most imminent. There are a lot of people with ideas; even Turkey. The new member of the World Council is from Turkey. He wants to get a World Championship rally, he wants to have a Grand Prix.

-fia-

Part III

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About this article
Series Formula 1 , WRC
Drivers Colin McRae , David Richards , Jean Todt
Teams Ferrari