SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Motor racing chief Max Mosley holds the key to whether Formula One stays intact or splits into rival series, senior figures in the sport said on Friday.
“The fat lady hasn’t sung yet,” triple world champion Jackie Stewart told Reuters at the British Grand Prix.
“FOTA (the Formula One Teams Association) have made a decision that they cannot go on with the governance in its present form.
“If there is room for further discussion and the governance backs off from some of its insistencies, it may well be that they can come together under a new set of managements,” added the Scot.
“But I think the trouble is that Max has gone too far with this and the teams have suddenly said ‘I’m sorry, we can’t take it any more’.
“It may well be that Max Mosley has to go.”
A standoff between International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Mosley and the eight FOTA teams came to a head on Thursday night when FOTA announced they were preparing to set up their own championship.
That raised the real prospect of a split similar to the one that divided open wheel racing in the United States until recently.
Mosley’s term of office expires in October and the Briton, who was caught in a sado-masochistic sex scandal last year and recently suffered the death of his son, has yet to declare whether he intends to stand for re-election.
The FIA’s response to FOTA’s statement showed no sign of any softening in its position, with the governing body saying it would announce a new entry list for its championship on Saturday.
“It’s really now in the hands of the FIA,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who was not overly optimistic of a happy outcome.
“The positions have hardened on both sides. The teams feel they have gone as far as they can, and the FIA feel they have gone as far as they can, and we’ve ended up in a situation where a solution hasn’t been found.”
Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone shrugged off questions about the sport’s future when he arrived at Silverstone.
“No idea. Speak to Max,” the 78-year-old told reporters.
Nick Fry, chief executive of championship leaders Brawn GP, hoped discussions with the FIA could continue.
“The ball is in Max Mosley’s court,” he told BBC radio.
Stewart, who has long been a thorn in Mosley’s side, felt he was not alone in wanting a change at the top of the governing body and referred back to a record fine imposed on McLaren for having Ferrari data in their possession in 2007.
“I think they (the teams) do want Max to go because frankly some of the decisions made over the years have been very questionable,” he said.
“For example, a $100 million fine on McLaren for something that was never proven. Never in the history of sport has such an amount of money been levied by a sporting authority. And that was something that he drove.
“I think a lot of people are kind of fed up with the dictatorial attitude. He has a great position of power but big trees do blow over.”
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.