Ecclestone changes tune on Mosley

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Bernie Ecclestone has changed his mind about the Max Mosley scandal and admitted it creates problems for Formula 1. Ecclestone previously said: “What people do privately is up to them. I don’t honestly believe [the scandal] affects the sport in any way.” However he is quoted in today’s Times saying Mosley should not go to the Bahrain Grand Prix:

He shouldn’t go, should he? The problem is he would take all the ink away from the race and put it on something which, honestly and truly, is nobody else’s business anyway.

Meanwhile former world champion Jody Scheckter has joined the calls for Mosley to step down.

Scheckter (who is of part-Jewish extraction) told The Guardian:

There is absolutely no question in my mind that Mosley should resigns. From a purely motor racing point of view you can’t have somebody like this running the sport – or any other sport come to that. I really think he ought to go and I would like to see the press having a concerted campaign to persuade him to do just that.

It’s interesting that Scheckter mentions the press because coverage of this story in some quarters is decidedly muted. The specialist motor sport press in particular are not pursuing it with the same vigour as the Times and Guardian – leading many to speculate they are too afraid of losing their FIA-approved race accreditations to cover the story.

Mosley is not without his defenders, however. Writing in his blog the Telegraph’s Kevin Garside said:

The newspaper involved trades on myriad pictures of naked women, depraved tales of debauchery and football exposes. That is its weekly diet. Fair enough if that is your bag. But how can Mosley be exposed as an affront to moral values for indulging in the same kind of peccadilloes?

This was a private matter, a trade between consenting adults in which no law was broken. It was not meant for public consumption, therefore there is no case to answer.

And Pitpass questions the motives of some of those who are running the story:

It is clear from some of the reporting elsewhere that some are jumping the gun, while others, possibly on the instruction of their paymasters, are pushing certain agendas.

This is surely a veiled reference to the fact the FIA is pursuing a lawsuit against the Sunday Times, part of the same group that runs the News of the World (that broke the original story) and The Times.

The Times seems to be following the story most energetically. It quotes an unnamed person in a ‘Japanese Formula 1 team’ criticising Mosley and suggests the Nazi overtones described by the News of the World has particularly vexed the upsed teams.

Getting back to the nub of the matter: what should Mosley do?

If he believes he is able to fully deny and disprove the allegations then of course he should pursue action against the News of the World.

But can he do this while discharging his duties as FIA president with maximum effectiveness? I’m not sure. It’s not unusual for others in similar positions to Mosley step down from their professional duties at least temporarily while the details of their personal lives are being put on trial.

I think that might be the best course of action for him and for Formula 1 – which did not need dragging through the mud again, even as it still feels the after-effects of last year’s spying controversy.

Garside is right to an extent – the News of the World is the worst kind of gutter trash – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a story. Similarly, just because the owners of The Times have a beef with the FIA, it doesn’t mean they aren’t right to push the story.

Read more on the men who might replace Max Mosley and the allegations in full.

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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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18 comments on “Ecclestone changes tune on Mosley”

  1. Wasn’t Scheckter’s son fired from Jaguar for kerb-crawling?  Hardly surprising he thinks Max should face a similar punishment for a similar crime..

    Personally, I think Max should have gone long ago.  The lawsuit against the Times is a classic example of FIA being completely out of touch with the modern world in PR terms, and the customer cars fiasco show they are unable to handle regulation changes properly either.

  2. Very good point Sam I wish I’d thought of that one myself. Yes, Tomas Scheckter was dropped from his role as Jaguar test driver for that incident. I wouldn’t put it on quite the same level as what Mosley’s being accused of, but as you say there’s more to that than meets the eye.

    More from The Times:
    Leader comment calling on Mosley to step down
    Context from Kevin Eason

  3. Given that Bernie must have spoken to Max by now I am amazed he isn’t flat out denying it.  Bernie effectively can say what he likes without worrying about the legal implications and if Max had told him it was all lies he could just say that it is all lies and we would know where it is coming from.

    Of course as soon as it looks like taking attention away from the spor and affecting the bottom line Bernie changes from it being a private matter to telling Max to stay away.  They may have been friends for forty years but if it affects Bernie’s profits he will cut Max off in a second.  Lovely people we have running our sport.

    I didn’t know Jody was part Jewish.  I have never heard it mentioned before.

    I think for me the next significant event in this will be Max launching his racers against racism campaign in Barcelona.  The press will rip him to shreds.

  4. if I were him, I would either come out loud it is not me on the pics and video or I would queitly go and never show my face in F1 again …

  5. milos, short and sweet, absolutly spot on.
    Why are we waiting?

  6. there is more from Bernie in the The Times:
    “What Max should do is what he thinks is right because it is only him that’s involved, not the FIA. He must do what he believes, in his heart of hearts, is the right thing. If Max was in bed with two hookers, they’d say ‘good for you or something like that’. But this, as it is, people find it repulsive. I think that’s the problem. The trouble with Max is he’s been brave and there is bravado at the moment, but I don’t think it’s going to be easy. And if he starts to sue, from what I understand, the chances of him winning would be slim and, the trouble is, it’s just a lot more ink for the press.”

    A however  like the way the "leading figure in a Japanese F1 team" put it:
    “It’s a credibility and judgment issue – fantasising about one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century is obviously completely inappropriate.”

  7. After this the man who badgered Ron into quiting over the SUSPICION of improperly running his business should have no responsibility for running the entire motor sport business.

    I like the temporary leave of absence, to allow him to clear his name. By the time the attempt runs its course his term will be over any way.

  8. From memory I believe that Tomas Sheckter was actually only in the car of a friend who was curb crawling. Whether he himself was taking part is probably down to the interpretation of the law. I think he was in court over it but I can’t remember whether he himself was charged. The story was reported badly because Jaguar Racing wanted him out of their employment anyway so used the curb crawling.

    In terms of Max’s position, he’s the leading figure of an international sporting organisation. He can’t possibly stay on in that role in light of the allegations.

  9. personally I find the last paragraph of the times article most interesting by far, and it really nails it for me

    “It’s a credibility and judgment issue – fantasising about one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century is obviously completely inappropriate.”

    That says it all really. And if it offends the leading car manufacturers – largely german and Japanese, how on earth can he claim to be able to discharge his duties effectively.

    In fact, I think Bernie quite effectively sealed his demise. If Bernie feels he’s not able to travel to Bahrain to carry out his duties, then it means he’s not capable and he should step down. PLUS – if there’s going to be more written about Max than the race, then how on earth can you claim to NOT be bringing the sport into disrepute??? It’s ridiculous.

    And in response to your final comments Keith, it reminds me of the old saying – "Just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me".

    Just because the NOTW is complete trash AND quite possibly had a grudge against Max, doesn;t mean it’s not true or that it’s a story people have a right to hear (and see!). frankly Max is a big boy now, and he should know full well what happens in life when you make enemies. He should actually feel quite lucky that given the political world of F1 he’s managed to last as long as he has given the number of people he’s so roundly abused with the wielding of his power.

  10. I agree wholeheartedly with the following statement : “It’s a credibility and judgment issue – fantasising about one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century is obviously completely inappropriate.”
    I also agree that most germans today are apalled at what took place but that does not excuse someone taking pleasure ( and how! ) from the atrocities that were committed. Its disgusting.

  11. How come everyone says nothing illegal was done? Is paying hookers money to preform sexual acts on you not illeagal in Europe?! Am I missing something here?

    His silence in this matter only proves his guilt, if someone had a (fake) video of you that was very embarrassing, wouldnt you stand up and flat out deny it?

  12. Max=Hot Potato=Now

  13. Its obvious whats happen there he’s used those girls before thev’e gone to the notw and the paper has said next time he comes get dressed up in the garb they wore. Who else would hide a video camera and for what purpose it ats tanumount to blackmail for which the notw will not be brought to book. saying that im glad hes getting his comupance as he came over as a very arrogant person and was very anti Ron Dennis who has proved over the years to have F1 intrest at heart

  14. One imagines that his old sparring partner Balestre would have given anything for a few more days to be able to see this.

    Moral of the story though?  Don’t mess with Murdoch.

  15. "Bernie Ecclestone has changed his mind" is enough for me to know that it’s an April’s fool day hoax

  16. The ultimate April Fools Day hoax? Wouldn’t THAT be outrageous!! Don’t now if I’d be able to gag up the hook line and sinker I swallowed so readily!

  17. Mosley has issued an official statement. More to follow on the blog. Further comments on this thread relating to the new developments will be moved to the new post when it’s up.

  18. Right I read max’s apology and his apology – he doesn’t deny it only thayt he is the victim of an organised conspiracy by people to reveal his private life??
    He further states in certain countries it is illegal to reveal stories about a person’s private life – he should move to one of these countries – argentina used to be a good place for people of a certain leaning to live in comfort without fear of publicity – he has only said that there were no uniforms/facist part of his escapade.
    I have heard of other more important people than a rich privileged  person having to lose there jobs for less – slope of max because if it is true you were there then as a person who held others to task and accused them of being lying cheats – where there homes were subject to police searches and threatened /advised they should loose there jobs – go back to monaco and enjoy the life/pleasures money gives you

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