Interview with FIA President Mosley, Part V

Part 5 of 6 Max Mosley interview transcript Question: Max, what's the current thinking about increasing the World Rally championship? Mosley: The number of rounds? There hasn't been much discussed lately, and whenever it is discussed, there's...

Part 5 of 6
Max Mosley interview transcript

Question: Max, what's the current thinking about increasing the World Rally championship?

Mosley: The number of rounds? There hasn't been much discussed lately, and whenever it is discussed, there's a certain amount of resistance from the teams. They really don't want any more and I think the next step may be to change one or two of the events rather than the number.

Question: Well we did that, we chopped Portugal and brought in Germany. How do you see that?

Mosley: I think the German event will be a very good one. It's a pity about Portugal but that business with the stage where you couldn't have got an ambulance in was just indefensible. But the next time we put a new one on the calendar it really needs to be outside Europe. There are still too many in Europe. But again, it's very difficult. The more successful the championship becomes, the harder it is going to be to cancel rounds.

Mosley: It depends which ones. If it's a question of whether to sell it to Channel 4 or Channel 3, that's ISC. If it's a question of whether to run the British rally in November or to move it, that would be us, or to run a new event would be us. They've got very little say in that sort of thing.

Question: Is Mr Richards the media chief in the World Rally championship, as is quoted in Motorsport News this week?

Mosley: He's the media chief in the sense that we have sold to him, or he has got the commercial rights to the World Rally championship for a period of ten years, so subject to certain constraints, he can do what he wants to with television. He can propose a calendar, but in the end it's the commission and then the World Council that decides.

Q: Where does the power really lie?

Mosley: At the moment with us. Now when we do the 100 year deal, we may give him more power, we may give him, for example, power over the calendar, analogous to that which Bernie has in Formula One. And what Bernie has in Formula One is the right to propose the calendar, largely the right to fix the calendar, subject to certain constraints. For example, the one that he can't cancel a classic event without our consent, if they are prepared to normal the money, like anybody else. So we may well give David Richards that, but that hasn't happened yet.

Question: Did the powers that be do enough to help Alain Prost?

Mosley: I think he got a lot of help from the only source that could help him, for example Bernie. I think he had money… I don't know, but I suspect he had money in advance, things like that. But there's nothing we can do and the French government– I don't know how much help he got in France.

Question: How likely is that we will see 12 teams on the grid next year?

Mosley: Unlikely, because a lot of people have been enquiring about entering, but of course we have that rule now that you can enter and you could secure that place today, but you have to give us $48 mil which then comes back with interest over the period. That tends to eliminate the non-serious people. Otherwise there would be two or three entries now. I could name three groups that all say they want to do it, but we just say‘ terrific, whoever gets the 48 mil here first has got the…

Question: Presumably if Bill Ford has a re-emergence of his green philosophies, Jaguar might disappear anyway?

Mosley: This is the weakness of the whole that manufacturers' championship, that it's not a core business to any of the manufacturers. As Leo Kirch himself says, any of us might be dead in seven years time, including him, but the only certainty is that none of the people currently be running the big companies will still be doing so in seven years time.

Question: What's the state of play of the Concorde Agreement for rallies?

Mosley: There's a certain amount of talk about it and there ought to be one, but nobody has started drafting one. If they have, they haven't told us. The first thing you need to do to do one is to get hold of the Formula One Concorde Agreement and follow the pattern. I think that's what they need to do with the regulations: get hold of the Formula One regulations.

Question: What sort of sense of weakness to do the teams feel that they need to have such an agreement? What is it going to do to strengthen them?

Mosley: What the Formula One teams have in the Concorde Agreement is the guarantee that certain things won't change in the regulations without their consent. I suppose that strictly speaking, at the moment, we could change say two litres whatever it is with the restrictor and make it one litre and no restrictor, certainly in 2004 and arguably in 2003, or we could say it's two wheel drive– whatever.

You can't do that in Formula One. Regulation stability is one factor. The quid pro quo is they then have to sign up for several years because at the moment, we don't have any means of ensuring that any of the rally teams will turn up in 2003.

Question: Mitsubishi have said that they will stay in the championship for three years on account of certain agreements with the FIA. Have any other teams made assurances in that way?

Mosley: Not that I know of. Anyway, with assurances, what happens is the big manufacturers turn up and say‘ I'm really sorry…my predecessor…I can't maintain this.' Even if you've got a contract. All they do is give you a cheque. That happened with ITC. When we changed the DTM into ITC, we did so on the basis of commitment of three big manufacturers and in the end we made them commit for $8m. We ended up picking up $5.3m from two of them. It's a completely different thing with the small teams. If Prost goes out of business, what can you do? But at least you know he won't stop doing Formula One unless he goes out of business, he won't just stop because the accountants don't like it.

Question: On Justin Wilson?

Mosley: We can't make the Formula One teams take or even try someone like Justin Wilson. One suspects that if they gave him a trial he would be very quick and he would probably be quicker than some of the existing Formula One drivers, but I suppose it's inconvenient because he's 6ft 3in and they just can't be bothered.

I think it's a great pity. Actually Formula 3000 last year was very competitive, and to win as he did, he did all the things you needed to do: he didn't go off the road, he won the races, sometimes very close races, and he's obviously a very very good driver.

Question: What about scrapping Fridays at Grands Prix?

Mosley: That seems to me to be completely sensible. The rational thing to do is not to run on Friday. You run on Saturday and Sunday, keeping the existing time-table. You are allowed one engine. If it blows up in the race, you're history anyway. If it blows up before the race, that's OK, but you start at the back or in the middle of the grid.

And then we need to review the question of how many teams each engine supplier supplies because you can't go on having a situation where the small teams haven't got an engine, or worse than that, have got an engine which is manifestly uncompetitive. We just need to get an agreement. If they don't agree, they don't agree, we can't force them, but if the majority of the teams agree, we can do it.

Question: Indistinct(start of tape), but about the Citroen penalty in Monte Carlo rally?

Mosley: The answer is that the stewards decided, for whatever reason, that the penalty should be suspensive, as they call it, and the moment that you do that, it's as if you haven't applied it. They didn't give a reason why. The whole question of suspending is something we're going to look at with the World Council. You've got two separate points. Should it be suspended for example, something like exclusion where you can't put the man back if he wins the appeal, and then should you suspend if you easily can put him back? Obviously, if you can easily readjust the result, like two minutes, there's no need to suspend the penalty. Somewhere like Australia there might be an argument for suspending it, because you might alter where he ran on the road and that might improve or diminish his chances, as the case may be. Or maybe you could say that he can't put it back. But there is an argument for saying even where you can't put things right afterwards, you should still not suspend it. If you think of football, when somebody gets a red card, it would be absurd for him to say‘ well I'm not going to leave the pitch because my manager's appealing, I'm going to go on playing.' The whole thing would break down. It's a fairly big discussion.

But as far as Monaco is concerned, I don't know why they suspended it. Had he been excluded there would have been a case for suspending it.

Question: You've spoken about draconian penalties for people who do illegal servicing. Two minutes is draconian?

Mosley: There are two possibilities. One is that they were changing the wheels because they had something that they wished to conceal which was illegal. The other is they were changing them so that the car would look nicer in the parc ferme, which seems to be the generally accepted explanation. Any suspicion that they were doing something illegal, they should have been excluded. If it was purely stupidy, because they had forgotten to tell the mechanics and the mechanics, having washed the car, wanted to take the dirty wheels off and put the cleans ones on, so it looked nice in parc ferme, that really was what happened, then you could argue there should be a fine. And maybe because they had been told not to do it specifically, there should be a big fine. But it seems to me it's one or the other. It should either be exclusion if there is a real illegal service, or if it was just a very simple mistake which has no bearing on the outcome of the event, then it's different. I don't know, but I suspect the view of the stewards that this wasn't illegal servicing properly.

Question: We've had some horrendous businesses, $300,000 for Goodyear and Toyota, we've had Tommi Makinen excluded from the Safari Rally, each in cases when it was arguable whether it was illegal or not and certainly there had no been precedents. Here, these guys had been told not to do it, and they go and do it, and this happens.

Mosley: Tommi Makinen, in Kenya, if he did get illegal assistance which arguably he did, it certainly made a difference to the outcome of the event. The argument for what happened in Monaco was that it had no conceivable bearing on the event or the outcome. Absolutely nothing to do with servicing properly, so-called.

Question: Right, but it did have a major impact on what came next which was the promotional value of what happened on the rally.

Mosley: You're confusing two separate issues: you're confusing whether they did an illegal service and if so what the penalty should be, and then, if you get the penalty wrong, then that obviously did have an effect, but that says nothing as to the draconian-ness or not of the penalty. It was either the right penalty or the wrong penalty. There is an argument for saying it was the wrong penalty and there is an argument for saying it shouldn't have been suspended. But it's completely different from somebody actually doing something during an event that can have a bearing on the outcome of the event. Unless they were doing it to conceal something illegitimate and there's no evidence to suggest they were.

Question: Going back to the Citroen business and how they advertised their victory in Monte Carlo which in fact, they never did win. What is the FIA's position about that?

Mosley: Technically, that is a breach of article 131 which is the false advertising article, that's sporting code. I think it's 131. So then we had to decide are we going to have them in front of the World Council or not. A very full explanation has come from Citroen as to how it happened which does actually sound realistic. In essence, they had prepared three different advertisements for three different cases and somebody took the decision to put the thing in while Frequelin was in the plane and it was one of those complete confusions. It seems to me that probably the fair thing to do is, having regard to all the circumstances, it probably doesn't warrant dragging them in front of the World Council, because I think the World Council would listen to it all and say,‘ well in all the circumstances, we can understand that and don't do it again.' I don't believe it was deliberate. If I thought for one moment it was deliberate then it would be a nice money-making opportunity but I don't think it is.

Question: What about appeals generally? Are there too many?

Mosley: I believe there are. The trouble is now that Formula One and rallies have become such big business that they almost appeal as a matter of course, and what I would like to do is change the way we do things. Let's take Formula One, because it's simpler. You have the local clerk of the course, you have our race director, Charlie Whiting. I would like him to impose the penalty and then the team to appeal to the stewards if they are not happen with the penalty, and then there's a proper hearing with both sides and then only appeal to the Court of Appeal with leave, either leave of the stewards, or leave of the Court of Appeal if the stewards refuse. That would cut down the number of appeals, there are too many appeals now.

Question: How would you like the timescale work out, on Sunday nights?

Mosley: If you did what I've just said, the thing would all be over on Sunday and that would be the end of it, and if the stewards refuse leave to appeal, their chance of getting it from the Court of Appeal, under that system, they would have to show that they have an arguable point of interpretation of the regulations. The chance of it not being all over on Sunday night would be minimal.

In Formula One, the teams don't like the idea. They are so conservative, it's very difficult to get them to move. In rallies, it would be a very big change because there isn't currently an event director or equivalent to the race director and his relationship with the clerk of the course is to be defined. It's not like Formula One and go out and know exactly how the circuit goes. You're not going to get somebody flying in from another country who knows the entire terrain. So it needs development, but the principal of getting it all done on Sunday night except when there's something really usual. And also we've going to be a little bit careful about the stewards and how they work.

Plus, I've now discovered that in rallies, there are quite a few things that have been going on for years that are contrary to the sporting code. For example, using bulletins other than for safety matters. Having the stewards in certain circumstances in an executive role. The clerk of the course, taking decisions to penalize people which he has no power to do under the code. These customs have grown up in rallying and they are just not correct. It's all got to be looked at. Otherwise somebody will appeal and we will look stupid in our own Court of Appeal.

If you're going to be a steward on a World Championship event, rally or racing you've got stay on Sunday night. We've had one or two cases in rallying where there's been a suspicion in quite the detail they would have heard it had there not been a plane to catch, so the best thing to say is‘ no plane.'


Part VI

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About this article
Series Formula 1 , WRC
Drivers Justin Wilson , Tommi Makinen , Alain Prost , David Richards
Teams Citroën World Rally Team