Q & A: Mosley on BAR

Q: In 1994 in the Benetton case, the potential to use illegal software was there but the FIA accepted the team's claim that it had not been used. The option for BAR to run underweight was there but the team claimed that it had not. Benetton was not punished, BAR was. What's the difference?

Q & A: Mosley on BAR

Mosley: In 1994 we found the software but in the aftermath of the Senna accident we'd given the black boxes back and we were not in a position to prove that the system was used. They swore that it hadn't, so really it was very difficult for us to proceed and we took the next best course, which was to put the facts in front of the press and let them ask questions.

In the BAR case we pumped the fuel out and when we asked if the car was empty we were told that was it. And then we found another 15 litres in the car and when that was pumped out the car was underweight. That was open and shut. It was an illegal car and there was no escape. We had them banged to rights whereas with Benetton there was just a possibility they could have done it.

Q: Why did the Stewards not find the car illegal after the race?

Mosley: As judges of first instance sometimes do, they did not interpret the regulations properly. They allowed themselves to be convinced with all sorts of data that the car had not gone under 600kgs. But there were two problems with that. One, you can't prove that just using data, that's what Article 2.6 says -- you have to do it y physical inspection. The second problem was that the data assumed that the rate of fuel consumption was constant, and there's no means of knowing that. So, for all they knew it could have gone under 600kgs but, anyway, whether it did or not is irrelevant because the actual car weighed less than 600kgs. They got it wrong, it's that simple, and that's why we appealed. Once you analyse it clearly there is no debate, to the extent that at the appeal we didn't even send a barrister.

One does have to ask the question, if BAR thought there was any question of measuring the car with fuel, why did they not query the procedure on the four occasions in 2004 when we pumped the fuel out. You won't find a technical director in the pits who doesn't understand completely clearly that the only way that the technical delegate can be certain that the car was over 600kgs throughout the race is to take the fuel out and weigh it. It never occurred to anybody that there was any doubt about it.

I'm very surprised that anybody in BAR Honda thinks there's any doubt about it. If they'd suddenly come from Mars and never talked to any other team, never employed anyone from another team, then possibly. But for anyone who lives in F1 its impossible to believe that it's okay to leave 15 litres in the car, tell the FIA it's empty and then hope that you get away with it.

Q: Where's the dividing line between BAR and, for example, the Williams brake ducts in Montreal last year or the '99 Ferrari barge boards. Why a two-race ban now?

Mosley: There's an enormous difference between careless infringement, where someone sets the wing too high or, in the case of Ferrari, the barge boards at the wrong angle. Or the Williams brake ducts, where the feeling was it was not done deliberately. The moment there is an element of deliberateness then you get into the area of dishonesty and what the court said was that there wasn't enough evidence to establish fraud, but there had been regrettable negligence and lack of transparency. That is a nice way of saying that's getting very close to being dishonest but they didn't actually go that far.

Confronted with what appeared to be a deliberate infringement BAR have sort of pleaded stupidity -- I think that's the best way of putting it -- rather than culpability, and the judge has given them the benefit of the doubt. Put another way, if you wanted to establish fraud in most courts you have to use the criminal standard of proof because what you are really accusing someone of is a crime. That means beyond all reasonable doubt. I don't know, because they don't explain the judgement, but I suspect that the judges in the appeal court felt there was some doubt and so they were not prepared to go all the way and say fraud. If they had, then that would have been the end of the season for BAR Honda. As it is, two races I think reflects the disapproval of the Court of Appeal. But all these things are difficult and everything being equal you have to lean in favour of the accused. That's tradition. I think they went too far but that's just my opinion and I'm not the court.

Q: In 2003 you offered a $1 million reward for anyone blowing the whistle on cheats in F1. It's quite a coincidence that the fine you requested was similar! Are the two connected?

Mosley: Fortunately we weren't tipped off. If we had been we would have had to give somebody the million dollars. Without the million Euro fine that would have been painful, but with the million Euro fine there would have been a modest profit! But fortunately we were not tipped off...

What actually happened was, there was a general rumour in F1 that this was going on. Whether it was or not, I don't know. The 2004 season as far as we were concerned had closed. Interestingly, I personally heard about this during the winter from someone who doesn't work in F1 but works in top- level motor sport in the USA. That's how far the rumour had spread and I resolved to tell Charlie (Whiting) at an opportune moment and in fact never got around to it because Charlie had picked the rumour up himself.

The reason I didn't tell him at Imola was that I thought that if it was true, they must know this rumour is going around and nobody would be so stupid as to do it at their first competitive race. They would wait to see if the FIA turned up and had a really good look because that would alert them to the fact that we were onto it. If they'd had a successful race and nobody had a good luck then probably they don't know about it. My contention was to talk to our people about it before this race (Spain) because I thought at Imola if nothing happens they will relax, put the system back in and we'll catch them at Barcelona. But unknown to me, our people were already onto it.

It's been suggested that this or that employee (leaked it) but my understanding is that it was not like that all. I've made a few enquiries and everybody really in the know in F1 seemed to strongly suspect that something was going on.

Q: Why was Sato disqualified if his car wasn't inspected?

Mosley: Apparently during the appeal the team was specifically asked if both cars were the same and replied that they were. So on that basis Sato's car was unlawful for exactly the same reason. I think one could say at this point that it's very unfortunate for both drivers because I'd be astonished if either driver knew about this. And furthermore I'd be very surprised if either driver had come to know about it that he wouldn't have said to the team that he didn't want to drive the car in that condition.

Q: If the data provided by the team couldn't be relied on to argue its case, why could data provided by the team be enough to disqualify Sato?

Mosley: The answer is what is technically known as an admission against interest. When someone admits something that is against their interest it is a lot easier to take their information than when they are saying something to defend their interest. And, technically, what the Court of Appeal did was ban to ban the team.

Q: Why didn't you check Alonso's Renault or Schumacher's Ferrari?

Mosley: Because we had good reason to believe there was something wrong with the BAR and no reason to believe the other cars were doing it. You've got to be crazy. People don't do that sort of thing in F1 anymore. That's why, probably, we should check more because if it really was happening last season, which is the rumour in the paddock, we should have found it. But people don't do that. It's the sort of thing people do at a club or low-grade race. It's crude, it's primitive, it's not sophisticated electronics or the sort of thing we'd be involved in. So there's not the slightest reason to believe that Renault or Ferrari or indeed any of the other teams were doing it. Before this all happened, if you went into any team in the paddock and asked them how much fuel would be left in the car when the FIA pumps the fuel out of the car, they'd have looked at you as though you were simple and said, well, a negligible quantity. Everyone knew this, it's not even a discussion point, so we've got no reason to think anyone else is doing it. If we had the slightest reason to we'd check it. The truth is, they (BAR Honda) went on doing it too long.

Q: The fuel tank manufacturer, ATL, has indicated that the tank they supply BAR is identical to that supplied to several other teams. That being the case, will you be checking other teams here?

Mosley: The usual thing with fuel systems is that they send us a drawing of the entire system. There are teams to my knowledge that have got similar systems but we've got the drawings and we know exactly what the system is. The system as such is not illegal, what's illegal is not pumping the fuel out when asked to and then having a car that's under 600kgs when you have pumped the fuel. But, if that car, with exactly the fuel system it's got, weighed 600kgs or more dry, there would be no complaints at all.

Q: Will BAR be allowed to have peripheral activity at Monaco - a motorhome, etc?

Mosley: As far as the FIA is concerned, those sort of matters are commercial questions and we're not here to crucify or damage them in any way. We're not looking to victimise them.

Q: Why are you so convinced, as you've said, that the two drivers wouldn't have known about it? Several technical people say it's inconceivable that if the drivers have a 10-15kg advantage with the same supposed fuel load, they wouldn't know about that?

Mosley: I'm not qualified to say. It's debatable but what difference in the end and I'd prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Q: Irrespective of the independence of the Court of Appeal, for perception of impartiality, why doesn't F1 use CAS (the Court of arbitration for Sport), a fully independent body set up by the IOC in Lausanne?

Mosley: We've given serious thought to that and one of the judges in the CAS is someone I've known for 45 years, but there are certain problems. First, you must have people who understand something about motorsport and technology and are able to deal with, usually, very complex questions. Usually the issues in front of our courts are not as crude and simple as having a dodgy fuel tank or dodgy amount of fuel in the car. Even more importantly, the decision should come between two grands prix. We can't do that if they are separated by one week but where there is a fortnight it's just possible. The other aspect of the thing is that the CAS has all sorts of rules; for example, civil courts are outlawed. That's caused trouble with the European Commission and all in all we feel that our court is at least as good, I would say better, is every bit as independent and has the technical and time delay advantages. So the case for retaining it is open and shut.

Ralf Fastest in Practice 4 - Spain
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