Max Mosley must go

The president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Max Mosley, today survived a vote of confidence in his leadership after a sex scandal rocked the world of motorsport earlier this year. A British tabloid charged that Mosley, the son of former British Union of Fascists leader Sir Oswald Mosley, held a sex orgy — with Nazi connotations — with four German prostitutes.

Once the story broke, comments critical of Mosley (and the tabloid, to be fair) came in very quickly, especially from the German and Israelis, as well as major Formula One teams and sponsors. Former F1 world champions Sir Jackie Stewart and Damon Hill have both spoken out against Mosley, as has long-time friend and F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone.

However, at a vote today at FIA headquarters in Paris, Mosley survived the vote with 103 votes in his favour. A group of dissenters — led by American FIA member group the American Automobile Association and including the Japanese, French, Spanish and Europe’s largest automobile organisation the German ADAC — have now threatened to split from the FIA, which is an unprecedented threat and could cause serious doubts over the future of competitive motorsport.

Robert Darbelnet, the AAA’s president, told reporters that “one of the potential ramifications is the division or a split way from the organisation that might in fact provide an opportunity for like-minded clubs to find a representative body in a different form”.

Consensus appears to be that despite him winning the vote, his reputation and that of the FIA’s has been tarnished to the extent that Mosley should go, despite his insistence that he will stay on until the end of his term.

I had the privilege to speak to Sir Jackie Stewart earlier this year. While this issue had not yet come up then, a few questions I asked him got me answers that I felt were strongly held beliefs of his. And so I do think that Sir Jackie, and others, continue to believe Mosley must go. They need to continue the pressure on Mosley and the FIA. The 50 or so associations that voted against Mosley must continue to apply similar pressure of the possibility of a breakaway grouping of associations.

In fact, the ADAC has already suspended all links with the FIA, describing the result that kept Mosley in power “[regretful] and [incredulous]”. This is not good for the future of the sport. Surely Max Mosley is not short-sighted and self-inflated enough to believe that his staying on can in any way benefit motor sport.

He should graciously accept the confidence placed in him by the 103 associations but acknowledge the 50 or so other associations who do not want to see him continue. He should also know by now that many of the political elite in countries F1 visits no longer welcome him — Bahrain’s rulers withdrew an invitation to him earlier this year. Surely he should know it is improbable for him to stay on as FIA president, and neither will it do him or the FIA or the sport any good.

Max Mosley MUST go.

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