Scots racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart believes Formula One is now in a stronger position to tackle the problems it faces in the future after the decision by his old adversary Max Mosley no to seek re-election as president of the FIA, the sport’s governing body.
The Dumbarton-born triple Formula One World Champion, in Scotland on a flying visit during which he will be made a Freeman of West Dunbartonshire tomorrow, admitted he wasn’t sorry to see the back of Mosley.
“I have no doubt Formula One will be in better and safer hands once the new president of the FIA is elected in October,” Sir Jackie said today. “Max has to accept the bulk of the responsibility for the mess F1 currently finds itself in.”
Mosley and the leading F1 teams and manufacturers have been at loggerheads for the past two months over a series of financial and technical restrictions he wanted to impose on them.
But earlier this week, after being confronted by the reality that the manufacturers were set to breakaway from F1 and establish their own rival series, Mosley — who has held the presidency since 1991 — finally backed down.
In doing so he conceded ground to the established teams by scrapping the planned £40 million budget cap for 2010, and agreed not to stand for re-election as FIA president. It was a point acknowledged by Stewart.
“When you’re talking about manufacturers — such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Toyota, Ferrari and Renault — who are behind a number of the F1 teams, these are big companies that feel they were being pushed around by the governing body in a way that was inappropriate.
“I think they wanted Max to go because, frankly some of the decisions made over the years have been very questionable, and a lot of people had become kind of fed up with the dictatorial attitude.
“The trouble is Max has gone too far with this and the teams have now said ‘I’m sorry, we can’t take it any more’.
“I think Max had to concede quite a lot because the teams have finally come to realise that economically they can manage their own business quite well, thank you very much.
“The FIA has often said they are not the commercial arm of F1 and the money side of it is not their business. But recently they have been making it their business and that is why the initial fall-out happened.
“I have no doubt Max has been going about his business with a very imperial role for probably too long. Thankfully we now see that empires do come to an end, as Julius Caesar found out.”
Stewart will spend tomorrow visiting ‘old haunts’ and will receive the Freemanship at a special ceremony in the Dumbarton Municipal Buildings this evening.
“It means a lot to me to be returning home,” Stewart, world champion in 1969, ’71 and ’73, continued. “It’s a huge compliment to be bestowed with the Freemanship of West Dunbartonshire.
“I have always been very proud of my Dumbarton origins and I am delighted West Dunbartonshire is proud of my achievements and is granting me this wonderful honour.
“I am delighted to have this recognition and am looking forward to a visit to my old primary school and to the home where I grew up.”