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.