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Interview: Mosley defends Alonso penalty

Max Mosley talking to an irate Flavio Briatore at MonzaFIA President Max Mosley has moved to defend the stewards' decision to penalise Fernando Alonso for impeding, but he said that the governing body will consider revising the rules for next season, to ensure that only drivers who deliberately block others would be punished.

Q: Is it bad for Formula One that the world champion stands up and says he no longer considers it a sport?

Max Mosley: "No. They say things like this all the time. This is absolutely the sort of thing that any sportsman will say when he is emotional about something. When he thinks about it slightly more maturely, he won't think that any more.

"One of these days there will be a situation where it is reversed, where it is hard on somebody else and not on him, and he will be quite pleased. If you imagine the situation that (Giancarlo) Fisichella was going for pole and [Michael] Schumacher had held him up like this, I don't think Renault would have said the same thing.

"It is a sport where emotions run high and you have to expect people to say things that they probably would not say if they thought about it."

Q: But don't you have to look at the context of decisions? There is a close title battle that could have been swung by the eight-place grid difference between Schumacher and Alonso

Mosley: "Well, what are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to say that because this is a world championship fight we should do something different? We can bin that argument from the beginning.

"What the stewards are saying, when I have discussed it with them, is that if this was the beginning of the season and there wasn't a championship this year, would you have done anything different? And you have to say no, the rules are the rules.

"The championship argument then falls to the ground, because if you would not have done it at the beginning of the season therefore you don't do it now."

Q: So there are no grounds at all for the application of reason?

Mosley: "The thing is this, if you have rules in the sport then you either apply them or you don't. Now the rule is, rightly or wrongly, that if you are on your out-lap then you move over for the man who is on his hot lap. Now, he did not do it - one driver suffered, and he gained an advantage.

"In the end, you can feel great sympathy for Alonso. I do, I would rather see Alonso in fifth place than I would see him in 10th place, because it would make a better race. But the fact is, if you have got rules then you have got to apply them even if you don't like it. I can see both sides of the thing, but in the end I think the stewards are right."

Q: And what about the stewards saying he didn't do it deliberately?

Mosley: "There were strong mitigating circumstances. If you were [Felipe] Massa you could say, 'well maybe he didn't do it deliberately, meanwhile my pole that I was absolutely on course for, I have lost. That is not fair. He should have moved over, I would have done the same for him'."

Q: But Renault say Massa lost his time through a mistake. He was 100 metres away and lost the time at the last corner?

Mosley: "Well, that is their view. The thing is, there are two issues there: did he in fact impede Massa? And was the penalty right if he impeded Massa?

"Okay, so now for the purposes of this discussion you have to conclude that he did in fact impede Massa because they (the stewards) got all the data and they looked at it all in great detail.

"If you don't accept that, then you have got to assume that the stewards are not completely honest, so there is no purpose in holding the discussion unless you accept the basic premise that Massa would have been quicker had Alonso not been where he was.

"The interesting question is, then, should therefore Alonso have been penalised? That is an interesting question. But, to debate whether or not the data shows something? Anybody can say what they about the data. We have got the data, we know what is in it."

Q: What about the argument that Alonso had to keep going because he had to get across the start-finish line?

Mosley: "If he did not move over, it was because he only had one second to spare. The question is, was he justified in doing something that he would not have otherwise have done, which might impede someone. The stewards said he should have moved over."

Q: But don't you set a dangerous precedent because many drivers will now complain on the basis of what happened yesterday? How big is the gap allowed between cars now?

Mosley: "We don't have to worry about the gap, because the data tells you whether the car behind has been interfered with or not. What we are thinking very seriously about is to say next season that we will only look at these questions only if there is evidence of deliberate impeding - or in other words, intent."

Q: Which there wasn't in this case?

Mosley: "I don't think there was intent, but what they did was absolutely consistent with the rest of the season. It is what we have done all season.

"This is a particularly hard case, and we don't particularly like it, but the worst thing you can do is to change your mind halfway through the championship, or do something that you would not have done at the first race because the championship is getting tight.

"I don't think it is easy, I don't think the stewards found it easy. But in the end, there is a saying in English - hard cases make bad law. And I think this is an absolute classic case where the nice thing would be to say, 'oh well, he is fighting for the championship, he is doing his best, he is a long way in front, he didn't mean it and probably didn't realise he was impeding Massa so we will let him go.'

"But that would be inconsistent with what they have done this season."

Q: How unfortunate is it that it looks like we have some higher forces at work here trying to make sure that Ferrari and Michael Schumacher win the championship?

Mosley: "That is only the kind of real, sort of, down-the-pub conspiracy theorists. It is just not like that. If you look at, for example, what happened to Michael in Monte Carlo or what happened to him in Hungary, when the stewards find it necessary they will penalise whoever.

"The fact of the matter is, you had Massa on a pole position winning lap and he was impeded. It wasn't Alonso's fault, but it certainly wasn't Massa's fault."

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