Max Mosley

On a visit to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, FIA president Max Mosley held a press conference for the world's motor racing press about his retirement U-turn and all things Formula 1.'s Tony Dodgins was there to hear what he had to say. Below are his thoughts on some key issues of the moment

Max Mosley

I was completely determined to go...but it became clear that there was no real succession.

There should be a structure because it is quite obvious no one person can do the entire job. It is too much work. There will be one in place by 2005. Whether I stand again for the presidency in 2005, whether I then retire or whether I stand for some other position in the restructured FIA is an open question which will obviously get decided in due course.

At the moment there is no agreement on a new proposal for qualifying so, if nothing changes, it will simply go on next year exactly as it is now. But it is to be hoped that during the autumn we will reach some sort of agreement.

The frustrating thing about the previous system (where everyone qualified together) was that if you were watching it on TV, you always missed the lap you wanted to see. A famous example was Montoya's sensational lap at Monaco in 2002 when nobody saw it. There's no footage, nothing.

On the other hand, what we have now, I recognise, when you are at the circuit it is quite boring. Watching one car at a time on TV has certain attractions.

But I agree we should ask the television companies. Any other multi-billion dollar business does market research. Who are the customers? They are not the teams, not the people at the circuit even, they are the people watching on TV. Why can't we ask the television companies to do one of those things where they ask various options and they get a little bit of money from each phone call. They are very happy to do it, everyone is happy and we might learn something. But nobody takes any notice.

I say to the team principals, which doesn't go down well, that they are all over 50, multi-millionaires and they never watch on free-to-air television. The customers are all under 50, not millionaires and do watch it on free-to-air television. As Bernie once said, it's like opening a restaurant and putting up everything on the menu and the customer has to lump it.

I liked the idea of all these races but there are two arguments against it. One is that the teams would find it very stressful, the other is that the start of the race is probably the most dangerous moment and what you are doing is multiplying the dangerous moments, so there could be a safety issue.

There hasn't been enormous support, not overwhelming support for it, I think it's fair to say. The trouble with qualifying is that every day I get three or four letters from all over the world, with really sometimes quite ingenious ideas and I always write back saying that it is not ideas that we are short of, it's agreement. October 31 is the deadline and if we can get the F1 Commission to agree before then, it can go through. Once we get past October 31 we need unanimous agreement to change and that is near impossible.

There is a clause in the CA that says we cannot change the engine or the transmission or anything that affects the performance of them without the unanimous agreement of the teams. But the clause that we are relying on to change the regulations to slow the cars down, says that it can be imposed provided the procedures are followed notwithstanding anything else in the agreement.

I think that is rather fanciful to put it mildly. There is no serious debate that the cars are now too quick. I don't think anybody seriously suggests that they are not. We haven't imposed anything yet, simply followed the procedure which is set out in the CA. These things are easily said but it doesn't stand up for a moment when one looks at it.

They don't. It's a pity, but the only thing we can do under that clause in the CA is to take measures to slow the cars. We cannot take measures which would make the cars safer but not necessarily slow them. But there are two things we would like to do and we have put them in a letter to the teams.

We would like to get rid of all the materials in vulnerable parts of the car which cause sharp shards on the circuit; the wings, barge boards, things like this. We would like to change to some other material. The suspension could be steel, it would be the same for everyone, nobody would get an advantage.

Equally, we'd like to get rid of the ballast because in some cases it's 15 percent (of the car's weight). It's a huge amount and the energy you have to dissipate in an accident is directly proportional to the weight of the car. So we'd like to get rid of that and then slow the cars by other means because, obviously, if you got rid of the ballast, they would be faster.

There are other things you could do. You would also have to change the size of the tyres because at the moment they are using the ballast to overcome the problem of the rear tyres being so narrow. The cars would be a lot safer but you could never argue that removing the ballast could slow the cars, so we can't do it under that article. We have asked the teams to do it and I think they probably will. But we can only ask.

We can suggest things that may reduce costs, we can't make anybody do it and we've had interminable meetings about doing that. As it happens, the changes that are coming through for reducing the speed of the cars will also have a beneficial effect on cost. But we can't do these sort of changes for cost reasons.

Hungary is traditionally boring but I thought both Hockenheim and Spa were interesting races. It's increasingly becoming clear that overtaking is more a function of the circuit than the cars, but that is a big discussion going on at the moment.

I don't find F1 boring. I realise that Michael Schumacher has won a disproportionate number of races but I see it as a sporting phenomenon. It's rather like Muhammad Ali at his prime, or Pete Sampras and I think it has a fascination all of its own, a sort of 'I was there' element, you know you are seeing something that you don't see very often.

We have never attempted to regulate tyres and when we get failures like we have had recently the most we ever do is write to the tyre company saying we are concerned and I must say that they always react in a responsible way. I think that probably, I hope, we won't see any more failures like that.

Secondly, the tyre companies are entitled to say to us: 'You should make sure that these shards aren't on the circuit,' because I don't think they are responsible for all the failures but there is probably an element there.

In the end, if we had a safety problem with tyres the only solution would be to go to a single supplier. I don't think it would be practical for the FIA, we don't have the knowledge, the experience and the means to assess properly whether tyre A is safer than tyre B of suitable for a particular application. It's beyond our knowledge.

Whereas, if you have a single tyre supplier then the problem is solved because you can make the thing as bullet-proof as you wish. I think the tyre companies realise this and so far, in Formula 1, they have been responsible by and large.

In other forms of racing, one motorbike series in particular, for safety reasons, has done exactly that and gone to a single tyre. But I hope and think that won't be necessary.

There has been a meeting of team managers with Charlie (Whiting) where this point has come up. It is something we are looking at carefully because clearly the situation could arise where safety would require something to be done. I should explain, again, that the technical meetings below the level of the team principals are very good, so are the meetings of the team managers because they tend to be highly professional people who actually understand what's going on in Formula 1. Dare I say it, if all the team principals would take a three-month holiday and let the managers get on with it, I think we would solve all the problems...

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