Formula One: Mosley says F1 heading for major crisis

Former F1 chief Max Mosley attending the Leveson Inquiry in central London.
Former F1 chief Max Mosley attending the Leveson Inquiry in central London.PHOTO: AFP

SILVERSTONE (REUTERS) - Former FIA president Max Mosley has warned that Formula One risks serious difficulties unless it changes direction and cuts costs.

The Briton, who stood down from running the governing body in 2009, wrote on the Daily Telegraph website: "There are no two ways about it, if Formula One continues on its current path, it is headed for a major crisis.

"The futures of six out of 10 teams on the grid are uncertain, there is too much artificiality in the racing, costs are far too high, and all that is giving us uncompetitive and, at times, boring racing."

The 75-year-old, who regularly urged teams to cut costs during his time in office, suggested the problems could also affect the transfer of ownership from controlling rights holders CVC Capital Partners.

Recent reports have indicated RSE Ventures, which owns the Miami Dolphins NFL team, and Qatar want to buy CVC's 35.5 per cent stake in Formula One in a deal that would be worth US$7-8 billion (S$9.44-10.79 billion).

"Once spectators stop coming, the grand prixs are no longer viable for the organiser. If television audiences go down, Bernie Ecclestone has to trim down the contracts," he said. "From then on it becomes a downward spiral.

"And for CVC Capital Partners, the majority shareholders, it becomes especially difficult when they are trying to offload the sport."

Mosley, who was a close ally of Ecclestone over decades in the sport, said he would allow teams more technical freedom if they adhered to a cost cap of about 60 million pounds (S$126 million) a season.

He also advocated a "drastic rethink" in how the sport made up the rules, describing as "utterly hopeless" the current Strategy Group, which brings together the top six teams, commercial rights holders and FIA president Jean Todt.

Said Mosley: "The best suggestion I have heard was to scrap the Strategy Group and replace it with three independent advisors; people who know the sport well but are not partisan."

He listed former Honda and Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn, race director Charlie Whiting and FIA safety commission president Peter Wright as ideal candidates.

Added Mosley: "When I was president, by some means or another we would push what we wanted through, usually by asking for more than I actually wanted.

"I don't know if Jean is unable to do that, but I don't think he wants to."