Formula 1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has launched an attack on FIA President Jean Todt, comparing him unfavourably with his predecessor Max Mosley.
"Jean Todt is a poor man's Max," Ecclestone told the Daily Express. "He has been travelling around the world doing what Max didn't do too much - kissing the babies and shaking the hands. It is probably good for the FIA but we don't need it in Formula 1."
Ecclestone's comments come against a background of increasing friction between the FIA and Formula One Management on certain issues.
This week Todt lent his public support to Melbourne as a host venue for the Australian Grand Prix, telling The Age newspaper: "For me, as the president of the FIA, there is a contract between the promoter of F1 championship and the promoter of GP and for me the Melbourne GP is a healthy and great event when you see the enthusiasm of fans coming from all over the world.
''We should enjoy the magnificence of this international event for the F1 calendar and Australia. The race is not leaving Melbourne, I will not speculate. They have been doing a great job, so let's encourage them to keep on doing a great job.''
Ecclestone had recently suggested that the Australian Grand Prix could move elsewhere, telling local media, "In the case of Melbourne, if the product is too expensive for them, we understand that and when the contract comes to an end there's no need to renew it... We get massive worldwide television coverage - if that's not important well, okay, don't buy the product."
Ecclestone has also repeatedly heaped scorn on the FIA's decision to embrace more fuel-efficient engine technologies by mandating a four-cylinder turbo formula from 2013 onwards.
Last week he said, "People love and get excited about the noise. People who have never been to a Formula 1 race, when they leave you ask them what [they liked] and they say 'the noise'."
"Already I hear about the noise, but that's evolution," Todt told the Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday. "Two decades ago, you had a 12-cylinder engine, now you have only 2.4-litre V8... I think it's very important that F1, being the pinnacle of motor racing, takes on board the evolution of society. It will be definitely greener, with the introduction of more technologies in the future."
Ecclestone used his interview with the Express to make his position on the F1 regulations quite clear.
"We should write the rules with the teams," he said. "The competitors have got to race and have got a big investment. We have got a big investment. We should write the rules, give them to the FIA and they should make sure they are followed.
"It should be like the police - the police don't write the rules and say you've got to do 30 miles an hour. The FIA is a joke."
For more on the developing political situation in Formula 1, read Dieter Rencken's Weekly Grapevine.