Debate: Your verdict on Max Mosley

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On 9th October 1991 Max Mosley defeated incumbent FIA President Jean Marie Balestre by 43 votes to 29. In the 16 years that have passed with Mosley at the helm the sport has changed dramatically in character.

But has it changed for the better? Has Formula 1 been efficiently and professionally managed under Mosley’s stewardship? Is 16 years simply too long for anyone, however competent, to hold this kind of office?

Sweeping regulations changes have characterised Mosley’s time as President. The first, in 1994, banned electronic driver aids such as traction control and active suspension.

After the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna further changes aimed at slowing the cars followed and making the sport safer followed. Engine sizes were cut, more demanding crash tests introduced and circuit safety was pursued with greater vigour.

More controversial changes came in 1998 with the advent of the grooved tyre & narrow track regulations. The new millennium brought even greater restrictions, with engines required to last for two races, then cut in capacity to 2.4 litre V8s and then frozen in specification for three years.

Mosley’s relations with the teams and disputes over the future direction of the sport have frequently spilled out into the public domain. Many felt he could have done more to prevent the debacle at Indianapolis in 2005 when only six cars participated in the race.

Lately his stance on the future direction of Formula 1 has been the subject of intense debate. Mosley wants to see greater use of environmentally-friendly technologies in F1 and fully intends to use the rule book to mandate it.

Of course, Mosley’s remit within the FIA goes far beyond just looking after Formula 1. But, for the purposes of this debate, has Mosley’s tenure as President been on the whole good or bad for the sport?

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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31 comments on “Debate: Your verdict on Max Mosley”

  1. For a man who has spent so much of his life in and around F1 ….. he seems to have a very poor concept of the “sport”, and certainly poor management skills.
    He just keeps adding pages to a rulebook that itself is variable in many areas and each team needs a lawyer just to read the thing! PINNACLE of motorsport? We who follow F1 would like to think so but MadMax has done his best to destroy technology and usually AFTER a team has spent millions coming up with a new concept. Renault’s mass damper design for instance, or BAR-Honda’s front brake differential (which was never used) and the list goes on. He has REDUCED F1 to little more than a spec class like GP2 or A1. And now he’s concerned about the environment.
    Make me choke, this is POLITICS invading sport. So, now you know where I stand, who’s next?
    Number 38

  2. Pretty valid. I would say that F1 has quite died if you compare it to 80s for example. Well, no going back I suppose..

  3. I don’t agree with much (most?) of what Max Mosley has done to F1, but what I find particularly irritating about him is the habit of resorting to petty, unpleasant, bullying comments and threats if anyone has the temerity to make public statements he takes a dislike to. This – in my opinion – does far more to bring the sport into disrepute than, say, drivers daring to have opinions on safety. Listening to/reading some of his pronouncements, I sometimes wonder if he actually *likes* motorsport.

  4. A little too much like his father…

  5. What boggles me about F1’s rule changes is that when you read rule changes, and then read the purpose and spirit of the rule changes, followed by what those rule changes have produced, we find that slower tyres, less downforce, and no traction control have produced more dangerous cars, not safer ones, because the goal of the F1 pilots is to win the race first and foremost. Keeping the car on the track is a secondary consideration.

    What should the new ‘environmental’ rules be? An efficiency requirement (fuel limit)? Ban petrol in the interest of promoting new fuels? Doing so would require other development rules to be rescinded, and I think the future is going to make Mosley look more and more like a hypocrite when it comes to both safety and budget control.

    I agree with Number 38, that I do not understand how Mosley can justify disallowing innovations after so much effort has gone into them. Perhaps FIA need to monitor the teams more closely if they intend to control costs in an effective and meaningful manner, not that the result would be any more agreeable than red sidewalled tyres.

  6. I’ll echo the above – it’s quite clear he’s only interested in one thing, and that’s power.

  7. I can never equate Mosley often pompous tone with the substance of his rule changes which are often riddled with very obvious flaws from the outset and then require further, and often equally flawed, changes to ‘fix’ them.

    I can think of no better example than qualifying, which has had something like five substantial changes since 2003, and still has this ludicrous ‘fuel burn’ period which makes the sport look palpably stupid.

  8. I can remember the sigh of relief we all gave when crazy Jean-Marie Balestre was finally ousted and Max got in. Looking back I realise that we had no idea what we were getting – Balestre’s worst feature was that he was ludicrously biased towards anything French or had the word “Ferrari” written on it, but Mighty Max has made fundamental changes that are designed only to line the pockets of the FIA and never mind the sport. Would that we were saddled with a president who was merely laughable instead of one who seems determined to change F1 into a money-making machine for big business and politics.

  9. Nathan Jones
    23rd March 2007, 7:50

    for a start i reckon the sport is for the worse since max came in, less passing – exciting racing – and the drivers simply wait for the pitstops to overtake someone!
    he wants f1 to be environmentally friendly? well then y r they running around for 10mins in quali simply to ‘burn fuel’? not only is it lacking in entertainment watching cars go around 2-3 secs off the times they can do just to burn fuel it also makes a complete farce of “qualifying” which is about speed alone!
    i just hope that when the standard ecu’s come in that we get rid of tc and make this once again a “drivers sport”, sadly i read a rumour online last week saying he mentioned bringing in “stabilty control” which makes a mockery of thier even being a “drivers championship”!
    these guys are meant to be the “best” drivers in the world and most of the appeal of the sport is seeing who is the best and thier on track antics (power-sliding, overtaking) etc have been removed because of electronics!
    just think for a moment that max said 2-3 yrs ago that 1 Mr. Ayrton senna had sent him an xmas card pleading for driver aids to be banned! also i’d say that Gilles Villeneuve would not be half the legend he is in todays cars with driver aids!

  10. I agree with Clive, he was Bonkers Balestre in my book, and Max seemed like a change in the right direction. I feel that he had one great charge in that he was the first FIA director who did something for non-sporting reasons, that might sound hypocritical, but actually it was good. He started out making the sport safer. But after a while he realised that nobody would be able to argue with “safe” and so he just pushed through whatever he wanted under the auspices of safety. That is a travesty. The sport shouldn’t be bullied, and in many ways what happened at Indy was a reaction to that, and the fact that Michelin is no longer in the sport is a subsequent reaction to that.

    Formula 1 is a great sport, and the Euro N-Cap safety tests are something that Max and the FIA did that were surely a great thing that everyone can agree on. But it was his realisation that he could get people to agree with him because of safety that was his undoing. His foray into environmentalism is a version of the same thing. How he can hypocritcally say that F1 should address the environement and have a fuel burn phase is beyond me (as Keith says).

    The question is, can you think of somebody better?

  11. Right at this moment – just about anyone, Alex. ;)

  12. “The question is, can you think of somebody better? (Alex A.)

    YES! I will be available when MadMax’s term expires.

    Number 38

  13. He’s useless…

  14. I never experienced Balestre’s reign first-hand (he was outvoted two years before I started watching F1), but early-era Mosely was exactly what F1 required. Admittedly it was at the expense of other motorsports, but Max was the one who gave the safety culture in F1 the space and funding it needed to vastly improve F1 safety. That is a big credit on his side – and with Bernie preventing the other motor sports from succeeding anyway, it didn’t matter too much that they were largely left to their own devices.

    What Max appears to have forgotten in his quest for additional power (probably to push the manufacturers to achieve his vision of motoring in general) is that all sports need a certain amount of space provided to them in order to thrive. Teams need time to adapt to rules, otherwise unbridgeable inequality sets in between teams. People need time to get used to the more intricate consequences of ruleset changes, otherwise they get fed up of unforeseen obscure rules interfering with their sport. Series need space in order to obtain their own unique identity. That’s been lost with millenium-spec Mosely.

    He has now decided to micro-manage all FIA-regulated motorsport (F1 is not the only series to have had frequent and unhelpful rule changes), and the results are clear – people are shifting to non-FIA-regulated series such as NASCAR and MotoGP. Just to make himself even less useful, he then effectively gave the manufacturers power to impose their own agendas upon the FIA (hence why the environmental rhetoric has been backed up today by… …rules that will probably harm the environment).

    I suppose what I’m trying to say is that Max Mosely was a great president who stayed two terms longer than he should have done and suffered the inevitable consequences. In future, I would want an alternate-term system; all presidents who get elected may only stay one five-year term (or shorter if they wish), and then spend five years doing whatever they like – as long as it does not involve any FIA work whatsoever. After the five-year break, that person may stand for the presidency for another term. This would avoid this sort of power-chasing, since presidents would require a wider viewpoint (increasing effectiveness and originality) and there would be time for a wider range of people to be considered.

  15. What I find most worrying is how Mosley changed the rules before the most recent FIA election to all but bar any competition to himself.

  16. To summarise Max Mosely’s reign:

    First term (1991-1996; technically two terms because the first term was a one-year trial) – brilliant. Lots of initiatives to take technology in hand and make the sport safer.

    Second term (1997-2001) – good. Although there was little innovation in this era (at least for Formula 1 – this was after all the term where the groundwork was laid for things like Euro-NCAP), there was a lot of reasonable extension work done on the previous terms’ themes. These went down well, apart from a handful of errors that can only be expected from a person who must make many many decisions in a term.

    Third term (2002-2005) – moderate, becoming poor. It started fairly well, with the attempts to persuade the teams to do more to self-govern their behaviour. It was when this failed, at the start of 2003, that Mosely’s reign fell off the tracks. The January 15 2003 proposals were not well thought out (none of the 2003 rules are in place in original form any more, except for parc ferme, and most were lost within two years of implementation) and each patch-up was progressively worse. In addition, he let the GPWC/GPMA get too much momentum, which caused trouble later. Intransigence at Indianapolis 2005 turned all bar Ferrari against him, at least temporarily. Even Bernie.

    Fourth term (2006-?) – disaster. The agreement with the GPMA, although on the face of it a victory for the governance, in fact led to the manufacturer-led, anti-racing proposals for the future. Seemed more concerned with own power than anything else, including the survival of the series. Has allowed this season to be dominated by pathetic power-play, and has now ensured that 2007 will be tainted and viewers turned away. Put the FIA into disrepute, and F1 as well. Given the narrow view most have of motor sports, I think he’s brought all of motor sport into disrepute recently as well.

  17. Max has had his time, and its time to move on. He has single handedly reduced F1 into a state of absolute Farce this season. I know, something had to be done about Mclaren and for all the arguments for and against the decision, its done now so lets move on but what about Ferrari’s front wing in Oz? or some of the other spy scandals, where does this end if we apply the same punishment that Mclaren had to everyone else who has been “bending” then rules then we are going to end up with an empty grid on a sunday. I do not condone cheating in the slightest, but lets play fair Max, one rule for everyone please! oh yea, and your resignation by Christmas please!

  18. he is an **** plain and simple

  19. A very petty man, who seems to be so in Ferrari’s pocket that it is embarressing. His personal attacks on other respected drivers and teams is just pathetic. But then again what can you expect from the son of a facist!!

  20. I agree with Paul. The bias towards Farrari has been obvious for years. His petty and vindictive attitude
    towards McLaren and now his comments about Hamilton
    render him unfit to hold his position. Resign now Max! We’re fed up with the politics.

  21. just to add to this I just read that max is considering what to do if hamilton becomes as dominant as schummie? was at ferrari?? – that the many ? people who wrote too him to adjust the rules to stop schummie being so dominant – would request the same in hamiltons case – what ****** planet is mosley on pls go max – for the good of F1 – get out!!

  22. Mosley should have gone after the disastrous and tragic season in ’94, when his new rules contributed to so many problems, and he completely failed to censure a certain German driver to deliberately taking out another competitor. He should have gone in 2004 when he said he was going to quit! He should DEFINITELY should have gone in 2005, after the Indianapolis debacle, when everyone in the paddock and the stands could see where the buck stopped. He should have gone earlier this season, when he publically insulted the legend Sir Jackie Stewart, a man who has contributed more to F1 than Mosley ever will.

    Now we have the disparity in the punishments handed to McLaren and Renault, dispite the charges and evidence being similar. I read the entire transcript of both McLaren hearings and it was clear that McLaren were being required to prove their innocence, something alien to most democratic legal systems. I’ve not been able to read the transcripts of the Renault hearing yet, but from the summaries I’ve read, it seem reasonable doubt was applied in their case (as it should have been in both). How can the FIA justify these blatent double standards? Renault admitted to a far wider dissemination of the McLaren technical data than was ever even suggested had occured with the Ferrari data at McLaren, but Renault got off scot free and McLaren have the book thrown at them. The answer is, they can’t justify them to the satisfaction of impartial F1 fans. Max simply sits to high up in his ivory tower to hear the shouts of the crowd below – well it’s time something was done to change that.

    For the record, I’m not a “McLaren fan”. I have followed F1 for over 20 years and I support drivers who show talent and competitive spirit. Over the years, I’ve been a fan of Senna, Schumacher, Mansell, Hakkinen, etc. Sure, I supported Hamilton to win this season (I always like to see fellow Brits doing well!), but my favourite driver in F1 is Kimi, and has been for many years. I’m delighted he won the title, but this season will be forever tainted by the scandals, and by the ill advised comments of the head of the governing body. This situation can’t be allowed to continue, or the sport will be irrevocable damaged.

    I urge all who feel the same way to sign the petition, for the good of the sport we love –

  23. After the acrimonious reign of Jean Marie Balestre Max was a breath of fresh air and common sense. He remains a powerful, almost charismatic figurehead for the governing council.

    In latter years I feel that the sport has been drifting in some undesirable directions. The entry of the major motor manufacturers has lead to a disastrous escalation in the costs of running an F1 team. The council’s efforts to contain these costs has to be a step in the right direction. However I worry that F1 is becoming just another tightly controlled formula designed to produce close racing rather than an environment where engineers can exercise their skill to produce innovative solutions which may have relevance in the wider world of motoring. Think back to the Chapman years and the rapid pace of change they brought.

  24. Mosley should go plain and simple.F1 is fast becoming a joke, i am a great believer in putting someone in charge ,who knows what its like to drive one of these cars competively.That person has the knowledge and ability first hand to know what F1 needs to go forward and not backwards as it seems to be doing.Mosley you are a disgrace just go !!!!


  25. Graham MacDonald
    4th April 2008, 8:12

    The mans a joke, This behavior is from a person who says F1 should be squeaky clean, i am afraid he should resign, Oh! and seek help as he clearly has a problem that has done F1 no good at all.

    I am afraid F1 is getting to be a laughing stock when the people in charge resort to this kind of behavior.

    Come on F1 get back to what F1 should be all about and get rid of people like this.

    I want my old F1 back without all the back stabbing from people who should know better.

    Martin Brundle for Presendent.  as in my opinion he has always been honest and true to F1.

  26. Bill Clintoon
    4th April 2008, 22:40

    The video is clearly a plant from one of Max’s enemies…
    …never good to be caught with ones pants down around the ankles while bent over a chair and getting whipped by a hooker dressed in a leather and using a leather whip on ones rather large and over fed rear end….as my "PA" always used to say.

  27. Maximillian Mosely is the Robert Mugabe of F1 who also doesn’t know when it is time to go. Cheating on your wife is the same as cheating at sports and the man is a disgrace to motor sport. I’m definitely not a McClaren fan but Ron Dennis probably can’t believe that the wheel of life turned around so quickly. We can quite clearly see now why Michael Schumacher had all that FIA support over the years. Also traction control and all those ridiculous little attachments to the bodywork should have been banned years ago. Just go so that a true professional who isn’t so concerned with being a control freak can take over for the good of the sport

  28. How can Mosely ever expect to be taken seriously ever again!No one would be able to be in his company without seeing in their minds eye the disgusting and comical image of "Striped ***** Max" bent over getting his just reward.The Dictatorial manner with which he conducts business within the FIA now makes sense.Poor old Bernie is between a rock and a hard place and I suspect that if sponsorship begins to dry up he will drop Mosely like a hot potato. Anyone with a shred of moral concience would have fallen on their sword and gone,the fact he has’nt speaks volumes for his arrogance and his mis-guided belief in his own importance.

  29. Max Mosely has a history of leanings towards sympathy for the nazi cause, however most of grow up with views that resemble those of our fathers, some of us grow out of it and become our own men, some don’t. Think about whether you read the same newspaper as your father for example? That doesn’t excuse his recent behavour but do you really think this is a new thing for him, he will have entered this sado mascistic arena many years ago, probably as a result of boarding school antics or some repression in his childhood which we all must agree was probably not ideal. Don’t castigate the man for having a perversion sexually, most of us have fantasies, he just has the cash to bring them to fruition. The real issue is if he is using memories of the death camps and german cruelty to jews and others during WWII to get his rocks off. That makes him strange at the very least, bizarre certainly and unfit fr high office in any organisation surely. I agree with Damon however, it is proof of his arrogance that he hasn’t just dissapeared into obscurity and resigned rather than hang on and damage what is a great sport. Formule One is a sexually  testosterone  charged business environment, if he tries to stay it could also affect Bernie’s standing globally. 5 birds dishing out the punishment, he should get out more…….. 

  30. Jem Dorley-Brown
    9th April 2008, 16:25

    My mother told me a story when I was a small boy:
    She had attended a political rally on Battersea Common shortly before World War 2 broke out. She and her friends were there for a specific purpose which was to chant "Lousy
    Mosley" when Sir Oswald appeared to address the crowd.
    In my opinion her chants are as relevant today, as they were seventy years ago. 

  31. Jonathan Weston
    17th April 2008, 8:51

    For a man who heads the FIA Mosley knows nothing about motor sport – about those who race and those who watch and why. F1 is about pushing the envelope – like his father before him he is a disgrace – It’s time for him to go – at last.

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