Martyrdom for Max?

23 06 2009

Tomorrow sees the world motorsport council meet in Paris, And FOTA’s plans for a new series will loom large in the room like an elephant free of its chains. Ferrari will be represented there by Luca di Montzemolo , fresh from FOTA’s call for the body to intervene in its disagreements with the FIA.

It is possible that the body will side with FOTA at the meeting and ask max to step down or the good of the sport. This I believe is highly unlikely as Max has done his best over his 4 terms in office to ensure that the only people who get near the top of the FIA are those who are loyal to him. The swift promotion for former rally driver Mohamed Bin Suleyham, (A member of a powerful Dubai family) to FIA vice-president after he orchestrated Max’s survival of a vote of no confidence illustrates max’s political manoeuvring in the FIA.

Max has today announced his intention to run for another term as FIA president, at the elections in October. This is a strong warning to the FIA and especially WMSC members that he is not going anywhere, and betraying him would not be a good idea. He wants everyone to know that nothing has changed, and he is still the man with the power.

Max is often described as a dictator, and although this is not entirely true, he does have an incredibly tight grip on the FIA; much like a dictator it would take something drastic to happen in order for him to be ousted. The FOTA breakaway is just a small protest in this context, and it would need someone to escalate it into a full on rebellion to oust max. Any individuals going down this route would be risking their careers, and doing something at this point may be too risky.

Max at this point may well be looking at his legacy, he could of course point to his work in the area of Safety, pushing though the Ncap testing standards for road cars, and the lack of fatalities or serious injuries in F1. However being remembered as the FIA president who split F1 or took it out of the federation’s control will not appeal to him.

The teams have made it clear that they no longer wish to deal with max, although ultimately it is not there decision to make, it does make life difficult for him. His intention of seeking re-election eliminates one convenient avenue for his departure, and he appears to be secure enough to avoid being pushed. This leaves the options remaining as a continuation of the fight, an unlikely compromise, or perhaps Max opting to jump himself.

The idea of Max resigning seems alien to many in the F1 world, but it may be the option which saves the most face for F1 and make it look like he has been the bigger man, saving F1 in the process. It would also likely enable him to virtually nominate his successor; Mr Bin Suleyham perhaps? It is hard to see Max taking up any other career, so perhaps he could find himself a position elsewhere in the FIA where he could pull strings unseen. The teams will be well aware of this risk however, and eagerly watching out for signs it is happening.

If Max does go on, so must the war, and the preciously finite resource of time dwindles further with each skirmish and day which passes.




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