LONDON • Max Mosley could make a sensational return to Formula One to help break a stalemate that threatens to kill the sport.
The controversial former president of the FIA, motorsport's governing body, was invited to a crucial meeting yesterday of the F1 strategy group, called to find ways of solving a growing crisis of confidence that is driving fans away.
But Mosley refused, believing that his presence would cause ructions, not least because Jean Todt, his successor at the FIA, will be at the meeting as the governing body's representative, sitting alongside Bernie Ecclestone, F1's chief executive.
A growing number of team principals are restless for change, though, and appear willing to bury the hatchet after Mosley's furious departure from F1 in 2009.
Mosley, 75, remains a divisive character but team principals acknowledge that he helped Ecclestone to guide the sport from a ragtag of enthusiasts to a global sporting phenomenon.
Ecclestone, too, believes that Mosley's advice could be crucial to steer a path to the future.
A source close to the strategy group told The Times: "It would be interesting to have Max sit in, not as a member but as an adviser. He has been through more crises than any of us can remember and has clear sight of what to do.
"The strategy group is clueless and there is nothing coming from the FIA, so why not hear what Max has to say?"
The teams and Ecclestone are mulling over the prospect of a meeting to gauge whether it is possible for Mosley to take up an ad hoc role.
Such a deal would risk the wrath of Todt, though. Despite 11 years managing Ferrari to the most successful period in the team's history, he is viewed as an outsider by many teams, and seen as incapable of leading F1 from the front.
His semi-detached style of leadership has been blamed for the listless state of the sport, an accusation that Todt angrily denies.
"People complain that I am a silent, invisible president," he told The Times. "It is a completely wrong and false analysis to say that Formula One is in such a bad shape. That does not mean nothing needs to be done.
"To get agreement in Formula One is probably the most difficult thing I have seen."
F1 has a chance to regroup at this weekend's British Grand Prix. As many as 140,000 people are expected at Silverstone on Sunday - easily the biggest F1 crowd of the season.
THE TIMES, LONDON