Analysis: New Turn for Bernie/Max Act

As a double act, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley, president of motor racing's ruling body, take some beating

Analysis: New Turn for Bernie/Max Act

Sometimes on the same side of the fence, sometimes not, the former second-hand car salesman and well-heeled barrister have turned the sport into the billion dollar business it is today.

The prospect of Ecclestone turning his back on commercial matters to oversee Formula One for Mosley's FIA sounds like the same duo still running the show, just wearing different hats.

However, Mosley's suggestion at the Monaco Grand Prix that Ecclestone join him at the International Automobile Federation to oversee the sport's development could be an astute move, offering Formula One a chance to hose down the bitter arguments that threaten its future and force all parties to negotiate.

"He could deal with the teams, the manufacturers, the banks and all the different things that one has to do," said Mosley on Thursday.

"It would be nice, it's the old team getting back together again."

The FIA head hooked up with Ecclestone in the 1970s when they were team bosses before both joined battle against the governing body in the 1980s.

"Sometimes he and I have opposing interests, but on this occasion we'd be 100 percent in the same camp again like we were in the 1970s."

Legal Actions

Ecclestone would have to divest himself of his business involvement in Formula One to avoid any conflict of interest but that would not be too difficult.

The three banks that own 75 percent of holding company SLEC have gradually wrested control of the key companies from 74-year-old Ecclestone after a series of legal actions.

The remaining 25 percent is held by Ecclestone's Bambino family trust. He has long argued he is not associated with it anymore.

By becoming the FIA's Formula One supremo, Ecclestone could ensure he remains the man the banks have to deal with, assuming they do not reach an agreement with him first.

"He knows the business better than anyone and one of the things in our arrangements with his companies, and therefore with the banks and so on, is that we have to approve his successor," said Mosley, who said he expected an answer from Ecclestone within the next few months.

"If he was sitting on our side of the fence, he would play a major role - if not decide who that person was to be.

"The result is that we would have somebody very sensible doing the commercial side but also somebody who knows Formula One intimately doing things from the FIA point of view."

There would also be significant advantages for Mosley, who is expected to seek re-election in October despite increasing hostility from Formula One manufacturers threatening their own series from the end of 2007.

There can be no more powerful running mate than Ecclestone, and Mosley would also disarm those Formula One opponents calling for him to quit.

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart, a fan of Ecclestone but a loud critic of Mosley, reacted positively.

"It's the only way it can go forward," he said. "If Max stands for re-election in October with the status quo remaining, Formula One will be in total chaos by then.

"Would we all accept Bernie? I think Bernie's shown throughout the years that he's a negotiator.

"That when there needs to be conciliation, there is. When there needs to be a hard stand taken, he will take it.

"If this were to broker a deal for the whole future of Formula One then I think it would be a good thing," he added.

"Max has the power and Bernie has the expertise. The banks probably wouldn't want to go forward without Bernie...the manufacturers don't want to go forward with Max, they've made that abundantly clear.

"Formula One needs a solution and perhaps this is a way of unlocking the solution."

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Series Formula 1
Author Alan Baldwin
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