Is there a more controversial figure in
world motorsport right now than Max Mosley, president of the Federation
Internationale de l’Automobile? Probably not.

He knows, like the rest of us, that a rebel
Formula One season in 2008 is highly unlikely. Maybe that’s why he continues
antagonising the five teams in the Grand Prix Manufacturers’ Association (GPMA – Renault, Mercedes, BMW, Honda, Toyota) which are still holding out for a
better deal.

At the centre of the argument is money and
power, just for a change. The GPMA teams want more of the sport’s considerable
commercial revenues, and more say in how it’s run. But rather than being a
genuine push for a breakaway event, the GPMA’s claim that it will consider a
rebel event for 2008 is widely seen as a threat designed to improve its
bargaining position.

The only problem is, Mosley doesn’t appear
to be a person who responds to threats. This week he told the BBC that the rich teams don’t in fact need any more money. It could more fairly be
distributed to the smaller, independent teams, thereby raising “the whole standard of the competition.” You won’t find too
many F1 fans who think that’s a bad idea.

One of the GPMA’s major gripes is that the
proposed new rules restrict the development of new technologies. For a company
like Honda, which uses Formula One as a development platform, that could make
agreement with the FIA harder to reach.

After the
proposed regulations for 2008 were released, Honda Racing chief Yasuhiro Wada
told the BBC: “People
are upset with it. The reason we race is for technical things,” before pointing
out that agreement with Bernie Ecclestone over financial matters was much
closer than agreement over rules and regulations with Mosley.

Now it’s being suggested that agreement by all
parties for 2008 could be reached before this season’s first race, in Bahrain
on 12 March. The contents of that agreement will tell F1 fans exactly who wears
the fire-proof pants in F1 at the moment – the GPMA teams, without whom the
sport would be decimated, or the sports governing bodies.

Peter Fray

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