Archive: Bahrain

Today it was announced that the Asian rounds of Superleague Formula have been cancelled. This is on top of the earlier cancellation of the South American rounds. The original 2011 calendar also contained races in Russia, the middle east, Australia and New Zealand. None of these took place.

In the end, the only two races that took place were at Assen in the Netherlands and Zolder in Belgium. This means that the championship was decided way back in July — but we only learned that today!

It was already quite an effort for those two races to take place anyway. Superleague had seemed worryingly dormant over the winter, and many suspected that it was dead.

Following in the footsteps of A1GP

The parallels between Superleague and A1GP (another failed attempt at an ‘F1 alternative’) have always been striking. Both have core concepts that are slightly alien to motorsport.

A1GP described itself as the “World Cup of Motorsport”. Drivers didn’t win races. Teams didn’t even win races. Nations did.

Meanwhile, Superleague was designed as a cross between football and motor racing. Drivers didn’t win races. Teams didn’t win races. Football clubs did. Any football fans I ever spoke to about Superleague were not very interested in the series. For this reason, the format was always going to be a loser.

But on the plus side for both A1GP and Superleague, they both provided some quite entertaining racing. And it is on this basis that they both attracted a cult following — a small but loyal fanbase. But this clearly isn’t enough of a fanbase to sustain a series for more than a few years.

A1GP lasted for four years. Cunningly, the series was run over the winter. Not very traditional for a motorsport series, but this meant that they could draw in motorsport fans suffering from withdrawal symptoms. It was moderately successful, and it led to GP2 (the closest thing there is to an official feeder series to F1) creating a spin-off GP2 Asia series that was run in winter. (GP2 Asia has since also been wound up, having had a troubled 2010–2011 season of its own when it was affected by the unrest in Bahrain.)

Not a super formula

When A1GP closed down, Superleague opened up and has so far continued for three seasons. Superleague runs with the same type of car, with the same type of drivers on the same types of circuits. For want of a better phrase, these are a B-class car, with B-class drivers on largely B-class circuits.

I have nothing against this personally, and I personally enjoyed watching A1GP and Superleague whenever I got the chance. But you have to question whether it is a formula for success in terms of bringing in an audience.

Sad but true: the standard isn’t high enough

There are lots of brilliant series below Formula 1 that provide real appeal. It is a sad fact that the motor racing world revolves around Formula 1, and the most successful sub-F1 open-wheel series are all about finding the F1 stars of the future. GP2, World Series by Renault, GP3 and the many Formula 3 series all stake their claim as being a testing ground for the stars of the future.

But series like A1GP and Superleague Formula cannot make this claim. As a result, their appeal is sadly limited. A series like Superleague is populated by drivers who aren’t good enough to progress further up the ladder. Some drivers almost made it to F1, but didn’t quite have the last bit that was required. If you’re lucky, there might be the odd ex-F1 driver like Jos Verstappen. But the world isn’t exactly set alight by the prospect of a battle between Neel Jani and Craig Dolby.

It is true that A1GP has been a stomping ground for a few future F1 drivers like Nico Hülkenberg. But these drivers had to make their way through GP2 aftewards to get to F1.

Because let’s be fair here. It is generous to describe the drivers in Superleague as ‘B-class’. B-class open-wheel racers can be found in IndyCar. IndyCar struggles enough to survive as it is. But at least some of its drivers are household names like Dario Franchitti or Takuma Sato. Jobbing open-wheelers whose sights haven’t extended to IndyCar end up in a series like Superleague.

While I have always found the concept of Superleague Formula to be shaky, I do hope that it is able to survive this embarrassing season and come back stronger in 2012. But I sadly doubt it will be the case.

What a tangle Formula 1 has found itself in, again. The sport has ended up on the front pages for the wrong reasons yet again.

The problems with rescheduling Bahrain

The reinstatement of the Bahrain Grand Prix is somewhat of a surprise. Clearly the situation in Bahrain is not the sort of circumstance where you can reasonably expect to hold a major international sporting event in complete security.

Employees of Pirelli were in Bahrain when trouble first flared up, when the GP2 Asia race had to be cancelled at the last minute. According to Adam Cooper, they are “not keen to return”.

Then there are the morals of holding the grand prix when the spotlight is on Bahrain’s human rights record. (Not that regularly holding grands prix in China seem to make many people bat an eyelid.) If Bahrain’s problems are temporary, as some maintain, then let them prove it and return next year.

If holding the grand prix will be a “unifying force” for Bahrain, as others claim, take a look at the planned “day of action” for 30 October, the rescheduled date for the grand prix.

30 October. That brings me on to the logistics of this. It is clear that holding the race even in a perfectly peaceful situation would involve a logistical mountain to climb. Not only does it involve moving the Bahrain Grand Prix. It also involves moving the inaugural Indian Grand Prix to the end of the year, which in turn stretches the length of the season to breaking point.

The teams are not happy about the prospect of racing just a couple of weeks before Christmas. By that time, their workers will be overdue a holiday. If the season gets much longer, teams would have to contemplate hiring extra staff. But with everyone involved in Formula 1 desperately trying to keep a lid on costs, this would be a painful step to take.

All of this makes me think, what is really going on here? Is it feasible? What is the real story?

Why move the Indian Grand Prix?

30 October was whispered as a potential date for a rescheduled Bahrain Grand Prix a few weeks ago. My very first thought was, “Why move the Indian Grand Prix?”

Last year there were high-profile troubles with the new Korea International Circuit. The circuit was barely finished in time, as it failed inspection after inspection. In the end, the race could be held — just. But it was marred by a dreadful spray problem in rainy conditions, which some attributed to the type of tarmac that had to be used to lay it in a hurry.

Fernando Alonso recently said, “It was completely dark and it was so wet. It was one hour delayed because of the wet. We could not follow the safety car because of the spray. There were so many things in one race that it remains quite shocking what we did in Korea.”

As far as I’m aware, there is no serious suggestion that the Buddh International Circuit in India is in danger of not being completed in time. But it is not complete yet, with just a few months before the original October slot.

Has the Indian Grand Prix been moved to give the circuit constructors a bit more breathing space to ensure that the circuit is completed properly? To have another Korea-style embarrassment for a second year running is clearly to be avoided.

Perhaps the main aim was to move the Indian Grand Prix, and use Bahrain as the pawn to do it. If the FIA decide that the Bahrain Grand Prix cannot be held after all, they will simply cancel it and keep India in its new 11 December slot.

What’s going on with the 2012 calendar?

On the same day, the provisional 2012 calendar was published. It also had a couple of surprises. Bahrain and India are both in the calendar in the positions you would expect, the same as the original 2011 calendar.

What is a surprise is that Turkey is included — albeit with one of those infamous asterisks. All previous indications were that the 2011 Turkish Grand Prix would be the last one.

With the addition of the United States Grand Prix, this nudges the calendar up to 21 grands prix. This has always been a big no-no. Even 20 races is pushing the limit of what the teams are in favour of. Bernie Ecclestone claims his aim is for a 20 race calendar. Jean Todt says that there will “absolutely not” be as many as 21 races next season, despite the provisional calendar.

So what’s going on? It seems to me like the powers that be are trying to cover all the bases. If Bahrain can’t take place next year, Turkey is ready to go and Bernie has his 20 races. Similarly, if India can’t take place, or the USA, or indeed any other race, the backup plan is there.

With one extra race in the calendar anyway, this looks like a way for Bernie Ecclestone to be sure that, after this year’s hiccups, 2012 will have 20 races.

Yesterday, I began looking at this year’s new F1 teams. This was following Ferrari’s controversial blog post and the news surrounding some of the new teams that has dominated the F1 news websites.

Yesterday I looked at the good aspect of the process — the relative success of Lotus and Virgin. Today, I turn my attention to the bad and ugly sides.

The bad side of the process

Campos’s fall from grace

It is unfortunate for Campos. At first they were regarded as among the most credible of the new teams. But unfortunately the money seems not to have been coming in. It looks as though the team has been saved. This week, as part of the process, its name was changed to Hispania. And today the car was finally launched.

But the car won’t get any proper running until it arrives in Bahrain for the first race, which doesn’t bode well. The last time a Formula 1 team turned up to a race without having tested was Lola in 1997. Running up to six seconds off the pace, the Lola remains one of the worst F1 cars of recent years.

Campos had previously run a successful GP2 team, and had signed a big name driver in the shape of Bruno Senna. For whatever reason, though, the prospect hasn’t brought in the sponsors.

Up until very recently, the driver line-up was still uncertain. For a period, it seemed as though Bruno Senna wasn’t safe. I do wonder if, counter-intuitively, Bruno Senna has been hindered by his name.

I have an immense amount of admiration for Bruno Senna. For my money, he was the class of the GP2 field in 2008. Yet, look at the other GP2 drivers from that season who have made the transition to F1 on more solid foundations: Lucas di Grassi, Romain Grosjean, Sébastien Buemi, Vitaly Petrov. Now you can add Karun Chandhok to that list.

I guess teams avoided hiring Bruno Senna for fear of being accused of only signing him up because of his name. So instead, shaky drivers like Jaime Alguersuari get parachuted in.

Hopefully Bruno Senna will be able to make something out of this mess. Considering he was unable to race for ten years in his youth due to his family’s wishes, he has done an amazing job to become as good as he is.

The situation at Campos / Hispania has been messy, and it’s clear that the team almost failed to make it. But it looks as though things are coming together. The new team principal Colin Kolles has experience in running a lean team from his Midland / Spyker / Force India days. Meanwhile, former Red Bull and BAR / Honda technical director Geoff Willis is also linked to the team.

We’ll have to wait and see if the Dallara chassis is any good. But while Campos were unable to pay the bills, there can’t have been too much work being done on it.

USF1: Another kick in the teeth for American F1 fans

The situation is even worse for USF1. Regarded very early on as a clown-like team, things have gone from bad to worse. It has to be said that Peter Windsor often comes across as someone with a rather child-like over-enthusiasm. Apparently we can add child-like naivety to his list of qualities too.

It seems as though Peter Windsor was genuinely the last person in the world to twig that USF1 wouldn’t arrive in Bahrain with a car. Stories from disgruntled USF1 employees have been leaking out for weeks now. The verdict on his management of the team, along with that of his business partner Ken Anderson, is damning.

With just weeks to go until the first race in Bahrain, USF1 was left with no car, and having done no testing. Peter Windsor was allegedly in tears when he broke the news to its sole announced driver, José María López (a driver who, incidentally, has not raced an open-wheel single-seater in anger for four years). He has apparently been lying low, having not been seen at the factory recently.

This week, when USF1’s employees were finally put out of their misery and told that the game was up, neither Peter Windsor nor Ken Anderson were present. When considering also the news that USF1 apparently had offers to save the team, but the shareholders rebuffed all of these efforts, I begin to assume that this entire exercise was all about ego, and nothing to do with any of the patriotic clap-trap they came out with.

Yesterday, the FIA finally kicked them out of the championship, too late for a more credible team such as Lola or Prodrive to be brought in. That didn’t stop one shady outfit from sniffing around though…

The ugly side of the process

Second hand car business Stefan GP

Serbian outfit Stefan, led by Zoran Stefanović, originally attempted to enter F1 along with the other teams last summer. It was not viewed as credible by anyone. It was noted that the way Stefan went about securing an entry was rather unconventional. For instance, they did their best to upset the FIA by complaining about the entry process itself — which won’t exactly get you in the FIA’s good books.

However, fast forward to this winter. Quietly, Stefan has secured the intellectual property to Toyota’s car, with the manufacturer having recently pulled out. Clearly, actually having a car is a fairly good weapon in an F1 team’s arsenal, particularly considering that certain teams (not naming any names, but I’m talking about USF1) did not even have a car, despite having been preparing for at least a year.

With the shit hitting the fan at USF1’s factory in Charlotte, Bernie Ecclestone was apparently trying to help Stefan make it onto the grid in an attempt to keep the field full. The trouble was that, despite having a car, Stefan still wasn’t terribly credible.

Their preferred form of communication was by bizarre press releases bemoaning everyone and everything in broken English. And when they attempted to test their car a couple of weeks ago, everything was all set, apart from the minor fact that they forgot to arrange a tyre supply!

And I hardly know where to begin with the drivers Stefan are rumoured to have been talking to — the likes of Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher. Michael Schumacher’s comeback is cynical enough, but at least he is talented and has the ability to come back after a few years away. Jacques Villeneuve couldn’t even spend half a season away in 2004 without coming back even worse than normal.

All-in-all, this entire process hasn’t been F1’s proudest moment. And Formula 1 in recent years is littered with bad news. Here is hoping that Jean Todt will manage to bring some sense into the FIA’s processes. I won’t hold my breath though.

Update: Read more about the dodgy Stefan operation.

It has to be said, unintended consequences are never far away in the world of F1 rule changes. For just one example, take a look at how quickly aerodynamic flick-ups have resurfaced, despite their supposed banning. Skate fins? What on earth?

Now we are presented with a number of oddities that have come about as a result of this season’s new testing restrictions. In-season testing is banned completely. Each team is limited to 15,000km, but according to James Allen it looks as though no teams will top 10,000km, because this year’s testing events have been so heavily disrupted. Teams that go to Portugal and Spain get relentlessly rained on. Those that go to Bahrain are treated to sandstorms.

Moreover, what little testing time there is has been eaten into by the need to test 2010-spec tyres. The bans in refuelling and tyre warmers coming into effect next season will put different demands on the tyres. As such, Bridgestone need to get data so that they don’t end up barking up the wrong tree as they develop the new tyres. But with no opportunity to do this later on in the season, some teams (McLaren and BMW) have had to sacrifice some time from their already tight pre-season test schedule.

Now McLaren’s test driver Pedro de la Rosa has expressed concerns that the lack of test time is actually dangerous for reserve drivers. Should a reserve have to come in for some reason, he will be thrown into the deep end, straight into the action having had little experience of the car. That would be bad enough in a normal year, but with the radical rule changes that have come into force this season you can expect out-of-practice drivers to be even rustier.

Now it is becoming obvious that the testing restrictions are damaging the careers of young drivers. All winter, it had looked as though Rubens Barrichello’s chances of retaining his seat at Honda / Brawn were close to zero. Reading some reports, you’d believe that Bruno Senna was practically a shoo-in.

Now it looks as though Barrichello has been given the nod, leaving Senna with nowhere to go. The ever-excellent trailed the possibility a few days ago, noting that “Barrichello is a better bet [than Senna] as his experience will be useful in a year when there is little opportunity for young drivers to learn how to drive F1 cars.”

From this perspective, it looks like Honda / Brawn have made the right decision here. Moreover, Barrichello outperformed Button last season, and it would have been a real shame if Barrichello’s career ended with a snub. Mind you, there is the risk that Barrichello will have a David Coulthard-style final season of doom, and we wouldn’t really want that.

But what now for Bruno Senna? Holding out for an F1 seat, he has more or less ruled out staying in GP2 for a third season. Indeed, it is difficult to see what he could achieve with another year in GP2. Drivers who spend too long in a category like GP2 tend to have their potential stunted.

In a sense, this is a predicament which is yet another symptom of the serial mismanagement at Honda which has deteriorated this winter to extreme levels for obvious reasons. Senna sounds pretty frustrated over this situation, and wouldn’t you be?

But any other year it would be no big deal. Senna could sign as a test driver for one year, as countless other drivers have done before, and spend the season racking up the miles on the test track in preparation for his first full season. And should he needed to replace another driver mid-season, he would have experience required of him.

Failing that, he could have gone on to make a decent career as a test driver. It may not have the glamour of a race role, and you can bet your bottom dollar that all test drivers yearn to race. But it is, at least, a decent income earned from driving cars — and they can always hope. People like Luca Badoer, Marc Gené, Anthony Davidson, Alexander Wurz and, yes, Pedro de la Rosa, have all made a decent living out of testing F1 cars. Felipe Massa started out at Ferrari as a test driver, and today he challenges for Championships.

Now what? All Bruno Senna can do is twiddle his thumbs. He can always suffer the humiliation of going back cap in hand to a GP2 seat. But this could backfire on him, and all the best seats have already been filled.

Could this be one reason why there is only going to be one rookie this season? Sébastien Buemi is the only newcomer to F1 this season, but he has done plenty of testing for the Red Bull teams and he is filling a vacancy that David Coulthard voluntarily left behind.

Remember when everyone was certain that Renault were not going to re-sign Nelsinho Piquet? Then, out of nowhere, they signed him for another season. Is that because, for all his faults, he at least has experience that the likes of Romain Grosjean and Lucas Di Grassi now cannot hope to attain?

Let us not forget another major FIA-instituted change for 2009, which is yet another instance revealing the lack of joined-up thinking inside the FIA. This season sees the inauguration of Max Mosley’s Formula Two project. Remember, this new feeder series was supposedly invented specifically to make it easier for young drivers to reach F1.

Well, it’s all very well adding yet another “second-top” rung in an already-cluttered world that contains GP2, A1GP and World Series by Renault among others. But the top rung now has a fundamental crack that will cause the ladder collapse when a driver reaches it, sending him — and his career — crashing to the floor.

There might be an allowance in F1 for “young driver training”, but this is no more than a fig leaf. A “young driver” is someone who has not tested on more than four days in the past 24 months. How is a young driver supposed to progress with such scant “training”?

Max Mosley likes to use F2 to make out that he is opening doors for young drivers. The reality is that this door leads drivers up the garden path. There have seldom, if ever, been as many feeder series as there are today. An F1 team can take their pick from 20+ GP2 drivers, countless A1GP drivers, anyone from WSR who takes their fancy and goodness knows how many F3 drivers. F2 isn’t needed, especially now that young drivers will find the welcome mat at F1’s door cruelly swiped from their feet.

Max Mosley has won his privacy case against News Group Newspapers Ltd, the publishers of the News of the World. A full PDF of the verdict is here. I am in two minds about this verdict.

On the one hand, the News of the World is a scumbag newspaper full of scumbag stories, owned by a scumbag, written by scumbags and read by scumbags. Their respect for privacy is a national disgrace, and watching media types bemoaning their apparent new-found inability to pry into people’s lives this morning has been pathetic.

It was pretty clear that the Nazi angle of the story was exaggerated somewhat by the News of the World, even if it was perhaps not totally unfounded. Thinking back to the original story, around half of it or maybe even more reflected on his family background rather than his wrongdoings in the bedroom department. The attempt to connect Max Mosley to fascism on the flimsiest of grounds, on the basis of who his parents were, was disgusting. Max Mosley did not choose his parents.

Even so, in my view there has been no satisfactory explanation for the overtones that allowed the Nazi conclusions to be drawn. The recordings include German speaking. This was explained as being down to the fact that one of the prostitutes was German. However, what has not been explained is why they were speaking English in a German accent. Phrases such as “I sink she needs more of ze punishment” (uttered by Mosley himself) and “We are the Aryan race!” do not strike me as being part of just another S&M orgy.

Max Mosley apparently had a sudden hearing loss during the phase of the conversation. Mr Justice Eady concedes that this sounds like a rather tall story, but says that it doesn’t matter because it was “clear… that the remark was unscripted”. He seems to think it was as though they were discussing whether an episode of EastEnders had Nazi overtones.

I also find it incredible that the judge has decided there was no public interest in the story. Oh really? The Crown Prince of Bahrain, Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, was interested. King Juan Carlos of Spain was interested. Prince Albert of Monaco was interested. Galeb Majadle, Israel’s minister for sport was interested. BMW, Mercedes, Honda and Toyota were all interested. Bernie Ecclestone was interested.

The fact is, no matter how disgusting I think it is that the News of the World should invade people’s private lives, once the world had the knowledge that he indulges in that kind of behaviour it affected his ability to do his job. That in itself surely demonstrates sufficient public interest in any sense that would be meaningful to anybody not sitting in an ivory tower.

There were a lot of people who scratched their heads about the huge £100 million fine handed down to McLaren by Max Mosley last year. I think a lot of people have a feeling that they now know it is because Max Mosley gets a sexual thrill out of inflicting a harsh punishment. The next time the FIA has to hand down a punishment to someone, it will be an open goal for easy jibes. This puts Formula 1 and the FIA itself into disrepute. It ability to govern the sport properly has been diminished.

It would be bad enough if Max Mosley was just the “boss of Formula 1″ or the “head of motor sport” as the media constantly referred to him as. This probably made the public at large a lot more sympathetic towards Max Mosley than they otherwise would have been. The fact is that the FIA has a huge responsibility not just for sport but for the motor industry as a whole.

The FIA has a huge amount of weight and influence when it comes to aspects like road safety and green technologies. The FIA works together with the United Nations and the European Union among other organisations to make things happen. The FIA was pivotal in the formation of Euro NCAP, the European car safety assessment organisation.

Max Mosley is so much more than just an F1 man or motorsport president. He is responsible for cars full stop. This gives him a huge amount of power — probably more than most British politicians can dream to have.

I think the public saw this as quite a jokey story. Yet if we were talking about a cabinet minister or the CEO of a multinational company he would never have lasted this long. It might well have been a different story if the public realised just how much power Max Mosley has.

Do we really want someone who gets his sexual kicks out of inflicting pain to have so much responsibility over road safety? Do we want someone whose judgement is so questionable that he would regularly cheat on his wife and lie to his family to have such responsibilities?

As I have said countless times, Max Mosley should have done the honourable thing and resigned months ago. But we know from years of experience that Mosley is not an honourable man. Had he resigned, I would have fully supported him in his court case today.

However, his behaviour since the revelations have demonstrated that he does lack judgement and that he does have too much power. The FIA General Assembly vote simply demonstrated that it is a rotten borough, and the FIA is filled to the brim with Max Mosley lackeys.

Ideally, Max Mosley would have resigned and News Group Newspapers would have lost its court case. As it is, Max Mosley will go to bed tonight feeling vindicated. And that makes me angry.

First of all, I suppose it should not be a surprise that Max Mosley won his vote of confidence. He would never have called it if he did not think he was able to win. But the margin of the victory did take me by surprise somewhat.

But if the vote was designed to assert Max Mosley’s authority, it has surely not worked. There are still the same calls for his resignation, even from people like Luca di Montezemolo (if he could make his mind up about it) and Bernie Ecclestone.

Mosley’s critics can still point out that the countries that voted for Max Mosley were mostly represented by small clubs, some of them caravan clubs who have not the slightest bit of interest in motor racing. The Dutch body, ANWB, went as far as to point out that smaller clubs potentially had a lot to gain financially from voting for Max Mosley.

It is said that the FIA clubs that voted in favour of Max Mosley represented as little as 5% of the FIA clubs’ total membership. This vote has done anything but put a lid on the controversy.

Max Mosley said in his letter a few weeks ago that he intended to stay on as FIA President, implying that he was the only person capable of keeping the FIA together in a time of “crisis”. Well, it looks to me as though if anything his desperation to keep his grubby hands on the steering wheel has exacerbated any crisis there may have been. In fact, it has created a new crisis.

The German body ADAC has already reduced its level of participation in the FIA and the American AAA is hinting that it will do much the same thing. Those are two of the biggest clubs in the FIA and such a split undoubtedly weakens the FIA. Indeed, if the ADAC continues to distance itself from the FIA, the Nürburgring may not return to the F1 calendar.

Way to contain a crisis. Of course, Max Mosley should have done the honourable thing and resigned as soon as the allegations were revealed. Any other public figure would do this. Max Mosley’s ability to hang on to power may have come as a surprise to outsiders who are acquainting themselves with this despicable little man for the first time. But we all know from the many years he has been in charge of F1 that he is not an honourable man.

I can well believe Bernie Ecclestone when he says that Max Mosley’s claim that he will give up the post in 2009 is a bluff. After all, Max Mosley already did resign in 2004 before changing his mind. And do the actions of Max Mosley over the past few months really look like the actions of someone who will be happy to give up the post in a year’s time anyway? Hardly. This man is truly desperate to hang on to his position. Who is to say that Mosley won’t try to remain in his position as FIA President until he dies as Bernie asserts?

As Bernie Ecclestone says, Max Mosley is a man who enjoys conflict. Indeed, we now know rather too much about the kicks he gets out of “robust” dealings and handing out big punishments. How can we take Max Mosley seriously any more? A lot of people thought that last year’s $100 million-sized punishment of McLaren (a value plucked straight out of a cheesy movie dialogue) was completely out of proportion. Well I think we all now suspect some new reasons behind his behaviour last year. How are we to trust the FIA the next time they decide to punish someone? The jokes will write themselves.

Max Mosley has lost all credibility. Since the story broke, the man has been uninvited left, right and centre. Uninvited from Bahrain. Uninvited from Israel. Uninvited from Spain. Unwelcome in Monaco. Meeting after meeting cancelled. This is a man who is patently unfit to do his job any more — and he knows it himself as he has offered to leave all public representation to his deputies.

He might have won the vote, but the FIA is like a banana republic. The credible voices are opposed to him. And no dodgy confidence vote victory will restore Mosley’s credibility. Will governments now be eager to start meeting him again all of a sudden? Will the royal families of Bahrain, Spain and Monaco be willing to shake his hand now? Of course not.

So where now for the FIA? As I have already suggested, it seems clear that Mosley’s decision to hang on at all costs has exacerbated or even created a conflict in F1’s corridors of power. Far from patching up any conflict, Max Mosley has worsened it. I am sure that if he resigned in the first place, a smooth transition would have been much easier to achieve than it will be now.

In Bernie Ecclestone, Max Mosley has created a formidable enemy. Who is to say now that the FIA will retain control over F1? In Clive’s interesting post on the future of the FIA, he suggests that we may be seeing the end of the FIA as governing body of F1. And why not?

I have thought for a very long time now that the FIA was far too strong — that it put far too much power in the hands of just one person. And the recent talks of a split between sporting and touring clubs rather suggests to me that there is no obvious reason why the sporting and road-motoring roles of the FIA really need to be dealt with together in the same organisation.

Does Formula 1 really need to be under the control of the FIA? I think not. Say what you want about Bernie Ecclestone, but if you ask me I would choose Bernie over Max any day. We may complain from time to time about Bernie Ecclestone, but at least he is not malicious in my view. Max Mosley is pure poison from top to bottom.