Spanish GP: Friday press conference

Spanish Grand Prix FIA Friday press conference transcript with Max Mosley FIA President Max Mosley: I thought we ought to have a short press conference, this was planned some time ago, and what I wanted to do was briefly, with you, go through...

Spanish Grand Prix FIA Friday press conference transcript with

Max Mosley FIA President

Max Mosley: I thought we ought to have a short press conference, this was planned some time ago, and what I wanted to do was briefly, with you, go through the season so far, to talk about the 2008 regulations, to talk about the longer term and then obviously to take any questions, or try to answer any questions that anybody might wish to put.

As far as the season is concerned, a quick word about Australia, because that was a strange incident, where somebody went off the court and got an order. Well, since those proceedings, I've seen the transcript of the proceedings and I have to say they were a complete farce, and the court was grossly misled.

Now, it is interesting, and the transcript is going to be made available after this press conference to anybody who wants to see it, but what is interesting is that the court were told a number of things which were not true and not told a number of things which it should have been told and in those sort of proceedings it's absolutely fundamental that you reveal all the details to the court because the other person isn't there. Not to reveal all the details is actually contempt of court.

Now there is no way in the world that the leading counsel that said these things to the judge would have said them if he didn't believe them to be true, that absolutely wouldn't happen, you could be disbarred for doing something like that, so he was obviously given some extremely misleading instructions.

If you are interested, read the transcript of the proceedings, you'll see it's really almost comical, the sort of things that he was told. So enough said for that, except that as far as we're concerned, it's not a problem, it doesn't set a precedent because the fundamental procedures were not followed, not even remotely followed, so it really isn't a problem.

On to the regulations; now there's been a certain amount of controversy about the 2005 and 2006 regulations and in particular the changes that were made. And if you recall, there are three main elements to this. There were the changes to the tyres, changes to the aerodynamics and changes to the engine.

There was also a change to qualifying. Now the qualifying is, in my view, a mistake. It was proposed by, with all fairness to him, our commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone, it was his idea, and the idea was that this would be good for the television on Sunday morning, and on that basis it was let through. I think everybody now realises that that's a mistake but occasionally mistakes are made. The difficultly now is to get it changed back, we would need to get all the teams to agree and we all know how difficult that can be.

But leaving qualifying on one side, the three important changes to the tyres, the aerodynamics and the engine, were brought in under Article 7.5 of the Concorde Agreement on grounds of safety. It's been suggested that this was somehow pushed through or forced through or done in some undemocratic way.

Well, could I remind you that when that package was put, after several months of waiting for proposals from the technical working group, when that package was actually put, the technical working group discussed it on the 6th of September and they were unanimously in favour of the tyre regulations, that's to say the tyres lasting for the whole race and so on. They were also unanimously in favour of the aerodynamic proposals, the changes to the aerodynamics, and they were in favour by a majority of seven to three of the engine proposals.

So one can hardly call that undemocratic. The only reason that that package didn't go through the technical working group as a package was that we needed eight votes out of ten, and although we had ten out of ten on the tyres and ten out of ten on the aerodynamics, we only had seven out of ten on the engine. That wasn't enough to go through. So then it went on to a further procedure which ended up, as you all know, at the end of October, with us adopting it under Article 7.5 which I mentioned before.

Now I would just like to say something about the engine because the engine proposal for this year was not very popular, the two race engine, but I think it's been proven that it works. Although there weren't a lot of laps in the first session this morning, cars seemed, to me at least, to be running all the time in the second session. It was controversial, but nevertheless, seven out of ten were in favour.

The real controversy comes over the engine for 2006, and as everybody here knows, it's a 2.4 V8, with restrictions on materials, but also restrictions on minimum weight and a minimum height for the centre of gravity. These restrictions are designed to prevent a rapid escalation in power. If you draw a graph of the power of the engines versus date, starting back in 1955, it goes steadily up.

There is an absolutely steady progression. We hope that by bringing in these restrictions we will slow that progression down. But in addition to that, these restrictions have a fundamental effect on the cost of the engine. It is necessary, under the current rules -- if you want to be fully competitive -- to throw most or all of the engine away after each race.

For example, the block will flex and a block is very expensive. The block then gets thrown away by some of the engine manufacturers after every race. Well the block for the 2006 engine is heavy and it's solid in order to meet the requirement of minimum weight and minimum height of centre of gravity and will last for a long time and the same is true of many of the components.

This means -- and it's fundamental - that a commercial engine builder will be able to build an engine that will be competitive with even the most expensive unlimited-budget engines that some of the manufacturers produce. The big budget engine will always have an advantage in power but not such a big advantage that the lesser engine or the person who has to pay for their engine, will not be able to compete.

And in fact I would guess that at the beginning of 2006, the most obvious commercial engine manufacturer, Cosworth, may even have a substantial advantage because they have an enormous pool of data about V8s and all the problems with V8s that other people don't have. But I don't know, I'm not qualified to say that that will be the case.

But the point about these engines is this. It is suggested that this was somehow undemocratic. But where would you guess the engines rule came from? Well, we didn't dream it up, it's far too technical. If you read it, you would need a PhD in metallurgy to understand some of it, and in fact, the original proposal came from Ford and from Renault.

It came from Ford and Renault because they were looking to reduce the cost of this constant battle for power. We then discussed it with other teams. Ferrari went along with it very reluctantly, I have to say. There were several meetings to persuade them that these rules were right and then Toyota went along with it, again, I would say, reluctantly but their inclination was to say 'well, if that's what everybody wants.'

So we ended up with four engine manufacturers in favour, three against, and seven teams in favour and three against. Then Ford unfortunately stopped racing in Formula One because they ran out of money but nevertheless we were left these rules. But to say that it was undemocratic with seven to three, and that we somehow dreamed it all up and forced it through is simply a travesty of the truth. What happened was it came from the manufacturers or some of them and we adopted it and I think it's a very, very sensible rule and will be enormously beneficial to Formula One.

There's another element which is power. Some people suggest we should have gone on with the three litre V10, the current rules, at least until 2008. It would have been completely mad to do that. We would have been well over a thousand horsepower this year, we would have been over 1100 horsepower before the end of the Concorde Agreement and no responsible person would let these cars loose on the circuits that we have, or some of the circuits that we have, with that kind of power.

It's alright on the very modern circuits, the Bahrains, if you like, or the Shanghais, where there's massive run-off and plenty of room. But already we're getting the race promoters and a lot of the public complaining they are too far from the action. But when you take the classic circuits, places like Spa at one extreme, or Monaco, or Suzuka, there simply isn't room to build these run-off areas even if you wanted to.

To allow the cars loose with that sort of power would have been grossly irresponsible and put us in an indefensible position were we ever to have been faced with an accident. Particularly when the technical working group said, for two years, that we ought to come down to 700 horsepower. Restrictive though those engines are -- extraordinarily restrictive, the regulations -- we won't be at 700 horsepower, we will be at closer to 800, and they will be running at 20,000 rpm I'm told and perhaps more.

So the idea that we somehow dumbed down Formula One is just, again, nonsense. And so I hope that everyone understands that we could never have considered allowing the existing engines to go on, it would have been irresponsible in the extreme for safety reasons.

So to 2008: well, there we've got this situation where we've twice invited the teams to a meeting, and the first meeting we just had Ferrari, the second meeting we had three teams plus the commercial rights holder who has a say in these things being a signatory of the Concorde Agreement. We've made a lot of progress. But it's a pity that the other seven teams, so far, don't want to sit and talk because there are some fundamental questions to decide.

On the one side you've got the approach which says 'we want to restrict costs to the point where we know we can get twelve competitive teams'. We've only got ten at the moment and at least one or two of them are perhaps not that competitive.

On the other extreme we have people saying 'no, Formula One is the pinnacle of motor sport, it is the absolute summit and the technology should be unlimited. There should be no limits on technology other than for safety reasons. We should be free to spend money and do whatever we like'. I have enormous sympathy with that approach, because in a way it's the approach we have all had to some degree or another for many, many years.

But the chassis engineers work within very tight constraints and dimensions. The engine manufacturers are now going to have to do the same sort of thing, even from 2006. So there is somewhere a compromise between the really low cost approach to Formula One, and the unlimited expenditure approach.

That compromise needs to be right, if Formula One is to remain successful. The only way you can get a really good compromise or a really good consensus is if all the major players sit down and talk. But if they won't talk, it doesn't matter. In the end we will do the best we can without them.

We will approach all the stakeholders. The teams will have, as was explained in that schedule that we sent out, a final opportunity to comment after the end of July when we send draft rules out to the all the stakeholders. Then there may be another meeting, there may not, it doesn't matter, we will set down the regulations.

It's been suggested by one or two people that we can't do this, that we can't just decree what the regulations are in 2008, we have to ask the Formula One Commission. Well, on the face of it, that's obvious nonsense because you would be asking people who are not obliged to participate in the championship and who you are not obliged to allow to participate in the championship. You don't even to have give them an entry; after 2008 there are no obligations.

And also there are all sorts of detailed points: for example we have to notify all the teams with two years notice of the 2008 regulations. Well, if they were involved in making the rules, you wouldn't have to tell them, they would have been there at the Formula One Commission, just as they are with the regulations now. So that's nonsense, all our lawyers say it's nonsense, so I think we can forget that. So in the worst case, we will simply get on and make the 2008 regulations and in accordance with the Concorde Agreement we will announce them before the end of 2005.

So that's, I think, 2008. There are a lot of very interesting sub-questions on 2008. Should we have a single electronic control unit? Should we have common gearbox internals? Are those sort of things going too far? Should we reduce the downforce by 90 percent, on condition that we could actually enforce that and stop it creeping back up?

If you did take the downforce down by 90 percent and you gave the cars much more grip with really big tyres and so on, you would have wheel-to-wheel racing. Is that really what we want? Do we want overtaking to be easier? Those questions are not straightforward, they are the points we would like to debate with the teams, as indeed we would like to debate things like testing where Ferrari have got a good argument for what they say, and other teams have got a good argument for what they say. One wants mileage, the other wants days. It needs discussion. If people refuse to talk, you don't get a solution.

So that, anyway, is 2008. In the longer term, and I've almost finished, we have to make sure that we don't get engine power going beyond what we can cope with, with a combination of the improved safety of the cars and improved safety of the circuits. That's very important. Obviously, exactly where the line comes nobody really knows, but we must continue with serious study and serious effort to minimise the chances of a serious accident.

There are other things: for example, it would be wonderful to have the fuel valve, the original Duckworth idea, to regulate power by restricting the amount of fuel the engine can consume per second. A lot of interesting ideas like that but again, they need discussion.

What are our aims with the rules? Well, we feel that it's essential that the drivers remain really important. We feel that the technology is important but it must not be allowed to take precedence over the drivers. Another factor we think is extremely important is management. It's interesting that if you look at the teams that are successful and the teams that are unsuccessful, the better the management, the more successful the team. Even budgets are part of management.

The two teams that have been most successful in the last two or three seasons have both been exceptionally well-managed and that's an interesting factor which I think people tend to overlook. There's the question of the variety of technical equipment, how much we want, how much we don't want. There's the location of the races. There is whether we want the teams to be as equal as possible. Does that mean pushing down or lifting up? There are a lot of questions like that. It all requires discussion. If you don't have a discussion, you make no progress.

That's really all I wanted to say at this press conference. If anybody's got a question I would be delighted to answer it, and of course if anybody wants to talk about BAR I would be delighted to talk about that but I would wait for a question rather than impose it on you because you may have had enough of that already. I'm here to answer the questions if I can. So that concludes the few words I wanted to say, sorry it was so long. Who wants to ask a question?

Q: On the subject of BAR, I think 11 years ago we had the Benetton situation and in that instance I think the ruling was that the ability to cheat was there but the best evidence or the inference was that it wasn't taken. A similar scenario apparently this time so why the difference?

Max Mosley: Well, in the case of Benetton in '94, we found the software for launch control, but in the aftermath of the Senna accident, we'd given the boxes back and we were not in a position to prove that that system had been used. They swore it hadn't, so really, it was very difficult for us to proceed at that point, so we took the next best course which was the lay the facts in front of the press and let the team answer questions. It was really all we could do.

In this case we pumped the fuel out and were told 'that's it, there's no more fuel.' We then had a better look and found another 15 litres in the car, and when that was pumped out the car was under weight. Well that was open and shut: 594.6 kilos without the fuel. That is an illegal car. There's no escape. And so that's the difference. We had them -- the expression is -- banged to rights, whereas with Benetton, there was the possibility they could have done it but if they said they hadn't we had no evidence that they had. We could only have proved it if we had not given the boxes back which was a mistake.

Q: Just following on from that, if it was an open and shut case as you described and it was under 600 kilograms as you described, why is it, and I'm sorry for the naivety of this question if it is naïve, why is it that three stewards were unable to find the car illegal after the race?

Max Mosley: I think that, as judges of first instance sometimes do, they did not interpret the regulations properly. They allowed themselves to be convinced with all sorts of data that the car had not gone under 600 kilos. But there were two problems with that. One is that you can't prove that by using data, that's what article 2.6 says. You've got to do it by physical inspection. The second problem was that that data assumed that the rate of fuel consumption was constant. It was the same in the first stint, the second stint, the third stint. There was no means of knowing that, so for all they knew, the car could have gone down under 600. But anyway, whether it did or not was irrelevant because the actual car weighed less than 600 kilos. They got it wrong, it's just that simple and that's why we appealed. Usually it's the other way around, the stewards do something and the competitor appeals. On this occasion it was us. It was quite clearly wrong, their decision, and one can understand that. It's very easy to sit down afterwards and criticise stewards under huge pressure, all sorts of data being thrown at them. Sometimes it's difficult to see the question clearly but yes, they got it wrong.

Q: Max, you were talking about the teams going to meetings or their lack of going to meetings. You have a means of getting them to go to meetings by calling an F1 Commission which you haven't done since last June. Don't you think that that would be a very good way of getting everyone around the table to start talking?

Max Mosley: The problem is that they don't have to go to a Formula One Commission and all you're doing there is you're calling the same people together but driving the poor promoters, some of whom have to come from places like Australia and Brazil, completely mad because they've got to come and sit and listen to this discussion. If the teams don't want to discuss, you can't make them discuss. You can take the horse to water, you can't make it drink. If they don't want to discuss in a meeting of the kind we've had time and time again since I've been in this position, then they're not going to discuss at a Formula One Commission meeting. They do not actually have to come to a Formula One Commission meeting, so that would just be a very clumsy way of trying to get them, but it wouldn't work. If they don't want to come, they are not going to come.

Q: But you haven't invited them to an F1 Commission meeting.

Max Mosley: No, for the reasons that I've just explained.

Q: Why doesn't the FIA define a black-and-white rule like weight in one paragraph, quite clearly, so everyone can understand it, even the most stupid people, because if you had done it in one paragraph saying the weight is, without fuel, then probably nobody would have ever tried to find this loophole?

Max Mosley: Back in '94, when the Arrows was eliminated, because this was when refuelling first started, there was discussion, it is actually in the minutes there of the technical working group, that they were considering another rule. In the end though, there's a rule that the car must weigh more than 600 kilos at all times, and the technical delegate must be satisfied that it weighed 600 kilos at all times and it's got to be by physical inspection. There are only two ways of making sure of that. One is to do what we do which is take all of the fuel out at the end and weigh it and if the car is 600 kilos or more you'll know that it cannot have been under 600 during the race. The other way is it to exercise the power we have of stopping the car just before its pit stop and weighing it. That is actually allowed, under 68a of the sporting regulations. But that would destroy the race. So among all the technical directors, it was blindingly obvious and everybody knew. They've been pumping out for years. There was never any question. And one does have to ask the question that if BAR thought that there was any question of weighing the car with fuel: why did they not query the procedure on the four occasions in 2004 when we pumped their fuel out.

You won't find a technical director anywhere in the pits who doesn't understand completely clearly that the only way the technical delegate can be sure that the car was over 600 kilos throughout the race is to take the fuel out and weigh it. It never occurred to anybody, including anybody in the technical working group, that there was any doubt about it and I must say that I'm very surprised if anybody in BAR or Honda thinks there's any doubt about it. If they'd suddenly come from Mars, presented with all of this, never talked to any of another team, never employed somebody who had worked for the other teams: possible. But anybody who lives in Formula One: impossible to believe that it's OK to leave 15 litres in the car, tell the FIA it's empty and then hope that you get away with it.

Q: One of the factors that's emerged from what happened at Imola last weekend is that the same name of a steward creeps cropping up. He's been involved in three or four of the most sensational and interesting case that have come up, and I wondered if you are aware of this. Clearly from your looks, you aren't. But if I tell you that the first class plane fare from Zurich is not terribly expensive, you might get some idea. It does seem very strange that on several occasions the FIA has actually queried the decisions of its own appointed stewards. My general question is this: is it time to revise the selection of stewards and perhaps find people who have a stronger control and knowledge of what's going on?

Max Mosley: Well, I think in a way you've partially answered the question yourself, because you say it's one particular person, and I think he's been a bit unlucky, because I think he's a very reliable, solid person, but if what you say is true, obviously that has to be looked at. But I've got great confidence in our stewards, I think we've got very very good stewards and the fact that things like this don't happen more often I think is evidence of that. So I understand what you're saying. But there isn't a lot to be gained by looking at the stewards. Everywhere in the world, you've got Courts of first instance and you've got appeal courts. The appeal courts are very busy, because people sometimes get things wrong. Formula One is very complex. If you're dealing with a team which is not perhaps trying to clarify the issue to the ultimate degree, it's quite difficult sometimes to see the wood for the trees. But I take your point. I do not claim that we're perfect. I just say that we do try very hard and if we don't get it right at first instance, we should be able to get it right on appeal.

Q: Just to be sure, before they take their decisions, do the stewards of the meeting talk, take advice from the technical delegate, the technicians of the FIA?

Max Mosley: Absolutely. As I understand it, what happened, though I don't pretend to have detailed knowledge of this, the team were saying never mind that the car's got fuel in it, never mind that when you take all the fuel out, it's under 600 kilos -- it never in fact, at any stage in the race, went under 600 kilos. What they said in the appeal was "our fuel system is so inefficient that we can't get the last six litres out, so although the weight of the car consisted of 594 kilos of car, and six kilos of fuel, it was over 600 kilos, because we can't get that six kilos out".

Now you may or may not believe that. You may not believe that the entire resources of a top Formula One team can't get the last eight litres out of their car. But meanwhile the stewards were saying to the technical delegate 'can you prove that the car went under 600 kilos?' And the technical delegate has to answer honestly to that 'I can't' because he doesn't have to. It is for the team to prove it never went under 600 kilos. In order to do that, they've tried to show that the fuel consumption was constant, that their measurements were correct and back that up with this tale that the last eight litres wouldn't come out.

All of this created a degree of confusion, sufficient for the stewards not to be prepared to throw the car out. But once you analyse it clearly, there's no debate to the extent, that in the appeal, we didn't even send a barrister. We had Pierre de Coninck, who is not a lawyer, and we had Charlie Whiting. The BAR team had one of the, if not the cleverest people at the English bar, he's brilliant Pannick. He acted for us against BAR when we had that arbitration. He was brilliant. That's how they found out about him (laughter). He's brilliant and he writes regularly or used to write regularly in the Times.

So they had all of those resources. It wasn't actually equal arms, and I think another time I will send a barrister who's a good cross-examiner because what was needed here was a good cross-examination of their witnesses. Then their whole case would have just dissolved into tatters. In my view, the truth about why they're not prepared to go to a civil court, is that they know if they go to a civil court, the whole thing would be out in the open and their case would collapse in tatters and we would have somebody cross-examining their witnesses and it would be somewhere between an embarrassment and a disaster. That's why they won't do it.

Q: It is well known that many of the teams, not only BAR, have no confidence in the impartiality of the FIA Court of Appeal -- and clearly you take issue with that -- but, in the interests of maximising impartiality and the perception of impartiality, and for the benefit of everyone in the sport, why does not Formula One do what many other equivalent global sports do, which is to use CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is a fully independent body set up by the International Olympic Committee and run in Lausanne?

Max Mosley: Absolutely. We've given serious thought to that and I've talked to several CAS judges. In fact one of the judges in the CAS is someone I've known for 45 years since we were at Oxford and I know him well. But there are certain problems which I will come to. Firstly on the independence of our Court of Appeal. There was a person called Schlesser. He does cross-country rallies. In fact, you will remember him he was the one who stopped the record of McLaren in 1988 -- and thank God, because I won £1,000 from Bernie when he said that McLaren would win all the races in 1988 -- well, he is the person who had Senna off at the chicane. Well, anyway, he brought a case against the FIA in the High Court in Paris where among the allegations was one saying the court was not impartial. There was a whole section in the Court's judgement which came out the other day on the impartiality of our court, absolutely refuting that and finding as a fact that it is impartial.

So, that is the highest court in France. I don't think there is any question in any serious person's mind about the impartiality. One or two of the Formula One teams have tried to suggest that and I have repeatedly said to them, 'there is an English judge, he never appears in Formula One matters because there is always an English interest. In our Court of Appeal that always rules him out, but go to him and ask him if he thinks the Court of Appeal is independent' - and I know the answer they'll get. They never bother to do it. They just whine on about it not being independent, though they know perfectly well that it is independent. They don't actually want to look at the evidence. I've also challenged to them to get their lawyers and they've all got these huge firms of lawyers in the City -- tell one of those to look into it, examine it and see who our judges are and where they come from, so that is a non starter. At least in any rational world it is a non-starter.

The problem with the TAS is this, firstly you must have people who understand something about motor sport and something about technology and are able to deal with usually very complex questions. Generally-speaking, the issues in front of our courts are not as crude and as simple as having a dodgy fuel tank or a dodgy amount of fuel in the car. It is usually something much more sophisticated and usually there is a quite interesting defence. But even more importantly it is very important to us that the decision should come between two Grands Prix. We cant do that if they are separated by one week, but where there is a fortnight between Grands Prix it is just possible, if there is an appeal from the result of a race, to get a decision before the next Grand Prix. It is extremely important here to know what the championship is and so on. And the other aspect of the thing is that the TAS has a rule stopping access to civil courts. This has caused trouble with the European Commission for one or two of the federations. All in all we feel that our court is at least as good, I would say better than the TAS, in quality, it is every bit as independent and it has the technical advantages and the time delay advantages so the case for retaining it is overwhelming to my way of thinking.

Q: Cheating is a very big word in sport and I understand that you were trying to prove this week that there was bad faith and there was a deliberate attempt to be fraudulent on the part of BAR in terms of what they told you when the fuel was being pumped out. That, it appears, was not proven by the Court of Appeal, however the car was still found not to be in conformity and they received a two-race ban for that. Now can you tell us what the dividing line is going forwards, in the future, just so we understand between this car, which was not in conformity and for example the Williams in Montreal last year which brake ducts were not in conformity and the Ferrari, in 1999, whose barge boards were not in conformity, or indeed any car that fails the post-race scrutineering. Why a two-race ban now and will any non-conformity in the future receive a similar punishment?

Max Mosley: There is an enormous difference between careless infringement where somebody sets the wings too high or in the case of Ferrari the bargeboards at the wrong angle, or the Williams brake ducts which I don't think anybody felt it was done deliberately. Maybe wrongly, but that was the feeling that it was not deliberate cheating. Now the moment there is an element of deliberateness in it, then you get into this area of dishonesty. What the court said was there was not enough evidence to establish fraud, which is really criminal, but there had been and I think this is the phrase "regrettable negligence and a lack of transparency". Now that is a nice way of saying that it is getting very close to being dishonest, but they didn't actually go that far. What it comes down to is that confronted by what appeared to be a deliberate infringement the team have sort of pleaded stupidity rather than culpability and the judges have given them the benefit of the doubt.

Put another way, if you want to establish fraud in most courts, you have got to use the criminal standard of proof because what you are really accusing people of is a crime. And that means beyond all reasonable doubt. I don't know because they don't explain it in the judgement but I suspect that the judges in the appeal court felt there was some doubt because they did not go all the way and say fraud. If they had gone all the way and said fraud, then that would have been the end of the season for BAR-Honda. As it is, I think two races reflects the disapproval of the court of appeal for what they described as the regrettable negligence and lack of transparency. But all these things are difficult and everything being equal you have got to lean in favour of the accused, and that's traditional. I think they lent too far, but that is just my opinion and quite rightly I am not the court.

Q: Max, in 2003, you offered a million Euros reward to anybody blowing the whistle on anybody cheating in Formula One. Just by coincidence, the fine that you requested after accusing BAR of cheating was a million Euros. Are the two connected and if so could you please clarify if you were tipped off or what the situation is?

Max Mosley: Fortunately, we were not tipped off and if we had been we would have had to give somebody a million dollars and without the million Euros fine that would have been painful. With the million Euros fine, there would have been a modest profit. But fortunately we were not tipped off. What actually happened was that there was a general rumour in Formula One that this was going on and interestingly -- and whether it was or not I don't know -- and to be clear the 2004 season as far as we are concerned is closed -- there may be issues between the teams, but as far as we are concerned it is closed -- now interestingly I personally heard about this in the winter from someone who doesn't work in Formula One, but works in top level motor racing in the United States That's how far the rumour had spread. I resolved to tell Charlie about it at an opportune moment, but in fact I never got around to it because Charlie had picked the rumour up himself. And the reason I didn't tell him at Imola was that I thought if it is true, they must know this rumour is going round and nobody would be so stupid to do it at the first competitive race. They would wait to see if the FIA turned up and had a really good look because that would alert you that they were on to it.

But if you had a successful race and nobody had a good look then probably the FIA don't know about it. So my intention was to talk to our people about it before the next race. At I thought Imola, nothing happens, they will relax, put the system back in and we'll catch them at Barcelona', but, in fact, unknown to me our people were already on to it and so, well, the rest is history. But it was generally known, it was picked up. It was suggested this employee, or that employee, but my understanding is that it is not really like that at all, having made a few inquiries, everybody who is really in the know in Formula One seemed to know, well know is the wrong word, strongly suspect that something was going on.

Q: If I am not wrong, Jenson Button's result at Imola was cancelled because simply his car was lighter than 600 kilos after drawing all fuel, not for having the fuel system which contains the big collector tank which has a capacity of around eight kilos or more and so I don't understand why you have to cancel Sato's result because Sato's car had not been checked at Imola scrutineering and so there is no way to judge if his car was lighter or heavier than 600 kilos. Could you please explain why?

Max Mosley: Yes, apparently during the hearing of the appeal the team was specifically asked if the cars were the same and they replied that the cars were the same and on that basis Sato's car was unlawful for exactly the same reason as Button's car. The two cars were apparently identical. I think one could say at this point that it is very unfortunate for both drivers because I would be astonished if either driver knew about this and, furthermore, I would be very surprised if either driver had come to know about it that he wouldn't have said to the team that I don't want to drive the car in this condition.

Q: I understand you said that BAR provided the data showing the two cars are exactly the same in Imola and that's why you decided to penalise Sato's result, but you also said, or the court said, that all data provided by BAR to show their car was not lighter than 600 kilos during the whole race weekend was not taken to decide the penalty. In that case, the data about Sato's car could have been seen the same way. Could you explain?

Max Mosley: As I understand it, what you are saying to us is you say you don't accept BAR's data for whether the car was or wasn't under 600 kilos so how can you accept their data when they say Sato's car is the same as Button's car. The answer is it is what is known technically as an admission against interest. When people admit something against their interests it is much easier to take their information than when they are trying to defend their interests. So that is point one. And point two, technically what the court of appeal did was to ban the team so Sato is not competing here through no fault of his own, and the same with Button. It is because of what the team did. So quite apart from the cars being the same, there was the question that it is the team itself that was banned for three races, one of which was Imola. So, whatever way you do it, it ends like that.

Q: The report from the trial, FIA minutes, says an extra 8.92 kilos of fuel were pumped out of a special compartment in the tank and BAR says that is pretty much the capacity of the fuel collection tank and the reason I am asking this is that if you are asking about something that is separated from the rest of the fuel cell now there is -- unless you want to carry the fuel as a ballast -- there must be a moment where you do activate something, like a valve of some sort, to let the fuel flow in.. I find it hard to believe the driver is not aware of something going on because he is normally the person who has to activate the valve or whatever. Is that the case or is there some extra compartment?

Max Mosley: What happened was that you have got the main fuel tank, the special compartment and the collector. There is a pump from the main fuel tank into the special compartment and eventually you get to a stage where the main fuel tank is empty and the only fuel left is in the special compartment plus the collector. Then, gradually, the special compartment would empty and the only fuel left would be in the collector and at a certain point the car would start to misfire. There was a pump from the main tank to the special compartment and the only way out of the special compartment was another pump to the collector.

If you pump the fuel out of the car in the normal way any fuel in the special compartment will remain there and because the main fuel tank, in this case, was not completely empty, the special compartment was for practical purposes completely full. But if they had been running harder in the last stint it is conceivable that then the main tank would have been empty. But the reason the fuel would not have come out is because there is no way for it to get out unless it is pumped out of the special compartment.

BAR have released I think 110 pages of what they said to the court of appeal. We have also released what we have done and I think you can see from the statement that getting access to that fuel and getting it out was not completely straightforward. You can't put the pump on and spray it everywhere because it is a fire risk; can't use a syringe for another reason. And in the end they turned up with a tool. But you see the simplest approach is that you say to the team would you pump the fuel out and they pump it out and you say is that everything and they say yes -- and it isn't. There is still 15 litres in the car! Now I think they have done a brilliant job in excusing themselves but in their place I would feel too embarrassed. I would say, well, ok. It's just ludicrous actually.

Q: Why didn't you check Alonso's Renault and Schumacher's Ferrari on fuel in Imola?

Max Mosley: Because we had good reason to believe there was something wrong with the BAR. We had no reason to believe the other cars were doing this. You have got to be crazy to do it. People don't do that sort of thing in Formula One anymore. That's why probably we should check more. If it was really happening last season we should have found it. But people don't do it. It is the sort of thing people do in a club race or in low-grade racing. It is crude and primitive, it is not sophisticated electronics or the sort of thing we deal with and there is not the slightest reason to believe that Renault or Ferrari or indeed any of the other teams would do it.

If you went into any team in the paddock and said you know when the FIA pump the fuel out of the car how much fuel would be left in your car when you finish? They would look at you as if you were simple and say well negligible quantities. It is not even a discussion point. We have no reason to think anyone else had it. If we had the slightest reason, we would investigate. It was the talk of the paddock and the truth is they went on too long (if they were doing it last year).

Q: Mr Mosley, a lot of people don't know anything about the regulation for the private test. It lacks the carnival we had in Brazil. What is the position of the FIA about it? We have today teams testing during Grands Prix now.

Max Mosley: Once upon a time there was a testing regulation and it was in the sporting regulations and at a certain point we said we would prefer not to be involved and the teams reached agreement. We could be involved, but we said we have enough to do without that. It is not our problem if they test, provided they observe safety precautions so we got safety rules and that's it. Then the teams had an agreement and that ran out. Now they don't have an agreement any more. If they want, we can have a regulation. But one or two teams who are signatories to the test agreement said they absolutely don't want the FIA regulating testing. And then some teams say you can't regulate testing.

Well, we can if everyone agrees. But testing at the moment therefore is not subject to rule so if they want to test they can test. I am not here to defend Ferrari, but it is a little bit unfair. Everybody says 'ah Ferrari have got an extra facility. They have got a test track on the doorstep and another one nearby, but on the other hand the total mileage they've done on their Bridgestones is probably a third of what the other people have done on the Michelins, but then they have got more teams, and then another team will have two wind tunnels and Ferrari have only one, so the two wind tunnels team is better off...

Then there is a third team, that only has one wind tunnel, doesn't have a test track, but decided to spend I don't know how many hundred million dollars on a headquarters. Well, they didn't have to do that. They could say they will spend 30 million dollars on a test track, a simple one with no pits or anything like that, just for testing safely and a slightly smaller headquarters. Everybody has their money and they decide what they do. But to complain about Ferrari just because they have got a test track, when any of the top teams could have one if they wanted it, seems to be to be wrong and personally I wouldn't have spent the money on a headquarters. I'd have spent it on a test track. It's an individual decision.

Q: This is a more general question. Nowadays, if a driver wants to get into Formula One, he has to begin his career much earlier than 20 years ago. Do you consider the minimum age to begin racing to be an FIA regulation or to be a national sporting authority's?

Max Mosley: It's a difficult question and it comes up all the time in karting because national authorities allow karting to start at eight years old or even younger sometimes and for us it is 13 I think from memory. We can only make rules internationally and the structure of the FIA is that each national sporting authority or ASN is sovereign in its territory so they can do what they like and a lot of them do start very young. We don't allow international races under 13 because we feel the pressure is too great, it interferes with school and so on whereas (for) national races those arguments apply less and also we don't have the authority. We can't say to our national clubs you must not do this or that except for international events. But it is a difficult question.

If you talk to the top Formula One drivers, they normally start before they are 10 years old. Senna once told me "I've been doing this since I was six" and I think Michael Schumacher is probably similar. Then it is second nature. The failed racing drivers among us would have done better, probably, if we had started at six. I don't know...

Q: The fuel tank manufacturer for BAR is a company called ATL. They indicated today that the fuel tank they supplied to BAR is identical or nearly identical to that which they supplied to several other teams. That being so will the FIA inspect a number of other teams this weekend for similar alleged illegalities?

Max Mosley: The usual thing is that with fuel systems they send us a drawing of the entire system and there are teams to my knowledge with similar systems and we have got the drawings. The system as such is not illegal. What is illegal is not pumping the fuel out when asked to and then having a car that is under 600 kilos when they have pumped it out. But if that car weighed, with exactly the fuel system it has got, dry, 600 kilos or more, no complaints at all. It is what they did that we complained about.

Q: Can you qualify the position of BAR-Honda engines when they return to racing at the Nurburgring? According to the penalty, Imola did not take place for BAR-Honda so they could start with a fresh engine?

Max Mosley: I have not given it much thought, but to me it is a two-race engine so if it is fresh in Imola they would have to use it at the Nurburgring. The fact they were excluded from the event doesn't entitle them to any advantage. That would be my personal opinion, but it is not for me to say. Our people will give them a view and if they are not happy with it they will have to go to the stewards. I have no authority to decree, but logic would seem to say if it is a two race engine, you have to do two races. They are still two consecutive races for that team.

Q: Max, in your view, will BAR be allowed to have peripheral activity at Monaco, such as a motor home, to have sponsors and publicity? Why are you so convinced also that the two drivers would not have known about this?

Max Mosley: I must say I am not qualified to say if they would know or not know but they would be doing a certain number of laps on the fuel. But whether they would know the difference in the ten kilos like your car is 600 kilos plus 70 kilos of fuel, mine is 590 plus 70, so mine is 660 and yours is 670... Whether a driver can tell the difference in two completely different cars it seems to me to be improbable, but I am not qualified to say so I could be wrong about that. I am sure it is debatable. I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt.

On the second thing, about facilities, and so on, as far as the FIA are concerned these are commercial questions and it is up to the team and the people who have the rights and such like. We are not here to crucify them in any way just to say you are outside the rules so you are missing those races, or rather the court of appeal said that, and we are not trying to victimise them in any way. So I prefer to leave that to them and the commercial people


Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Michael Schumacher , Bernie Ecclestone
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Benetton