Former FIA president Max Mosley has pointed a finger at his successor Jean Todt, and said that Bernie Ecclestone is “not to blame for Formula 1’s deepening financial crisis”.
With many middle-ranked teams struggling under financial strain, including the title-fighting Lotus and the two-decade stalwart Sauber, Mosley told Welt am Sonntag that he has seen the problem brewing for years.
Fascinatingly, the 73-year-old Briton’s rare comments coincide with the newly-announced FIA presidential candidature of countryman David Ward, who worked closely with Mosley during his long reign over Formula 1.
Asked about his ultimately failed quest to impose a ‘budget cap’ on teams, Mosley said on Sunday: “No one could or wanted to join the proposal.
“Instead, the teams introduced their own cost limits, but it was never effective in reality.
“In the end it was only a non-binding letter of intent – a kind of lip service,” he insisted.
“It was ineffective, partly because my successor Jean Todt was never a friend of cost limits. Now Formula 1 has a big problem.”
Mosley’s comments could be interpreted as his strong support for Ward’s campaign to wrestle control back out of Frenchman Todt’s hands.
Interestingly, Mosley also pins none of Formula 1’s problems on his long ally Bernie Ecclestone.
Asked if the sport’s chief executive is adding to the problem by not giving enough of the vast profits to the teams, he insisted: “I do not believe Ecclestone’s monetary policy is the crux of the problem.
“If the big teams got more money from him, they would just spend more money.
“On the other hand, Formula 1 would not change in substance if less money is spent by everybody.
“The problem is the monetary policies of the teams. Ecclestone actually thinks extremely economically. And he is the one who has managed the commercial side of the sport for years with great success.
“He brings the circuits, the organisers, the TV stations – in other words, he keeps F1 alive commercially. It is certainly not his fault that the teams live beyond their means.
“On the contrary, without him, it would be bleak.”
So, rather than criticise Ecclestone, Mosley said that the billionaire deserves every cent he has made from F1.
“Why not?” he insisted. “If someone works hard and is successful, why shouldn’t he have benefitted?”
Mosley even doubts that the 82-year-old really did bribe the F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is at the centre of a looming court scandal that could bring Ecclestone down.
Asked about the alleged bribe, Mosley said: “Why would he do that?
“Think about it again: why would he be interested in selling the business as cheaply as possible, even though his own family still owned considerable amounts of the marketing rights?
“Additionally, there was, according to my information, only one buyer for the rights anyway.” (GMM)