Bernie, Max, and Jackie
I've likened Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley to Barnum and Bailey, but their words and actions over the past month have brought into even sharper focus just how poisonous their influence on F1 has become.
First Mosley is persuaded that Stepney and Coughlan's "indiscretions" warrant dismissal of his "good friend" Ron Dennis' championship-leading team and a fine of $100M. Then the rough and ready BE, who reportedly played a leading role in bringing Stepneygate to the front page ("All publicity is good publicity") worked behind the curtain to make sure the Hamilton-Alonso fight for the drivers title wasn't derailed ("Don't throw the babies out with the bathwater!")
But Mosley wasn't content to see Dennis brought low. He had to undercut the FIA decision not to take away the drivers' points by saying a Hamilton or Alonso title would be "tainted."
Then Ecclestone just yesterday speaks of how Hamilton is F1's savior, while Alonso and Raikonnen have done nothing for the sport! Bernie likely thinks of himself as a demigod, but you'll more likely find his picture in your dictionary under demagogue! It seems he's always stayed a step ahead of everyone both by guile and by making sure he gives the people what they want!
I was very happy to read that Mosley was finally brought down a notch by none other than Damon Hill! The 1996 WDC, who himself had to deal with more than his share of ridicule and abuse during his short but dignified career, landed a body blow on the pompous and imperious head of the FIA.
Damon Hill defends legend Jackie Stewart
By Kevin Garside in Shanghai
A bitter conflict between Formula One grandees raged last night after former world champion Damon Hill attacked Max Mosley, president of Formula One's ruling body, the FIA, over "insulting" remarks he made about British motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart.
Mosley labelled Stewart, a lifelong sufferer of dyslexia, "a certified halfwit", and likened him to a Thirties music hall performer during a lunch last month with journalists. The insult caused offence, not only to Stewart and his family, but to his many admirers throughout the sport and beyond.
In a letter to F1's trade magazine Autosport, Hill spoke for many when he said: "To call him 'a certified halfwit' would be on the first level unkind, but on another level is nothing other than a wicked joke designed to visit the utmost humiliation on its victim.
"Regardless or not of whether he was alluding to his dyslexia, what he said was a gross insult to one of the sport's leading figures over the last four decades and a thrice world champion. Not only is it bad manners, it also calls into question the character and judgment of the man who represents motor sport throughout the world through the august institution of the FIA.
"It is conduct most unbecoming of an FIA president and, in my humble view, brought the sport into disrepute, a crime he seems so keen to eradicate."
Hill closed with a crushing flourish: "I would like to emphasise that my motive for writing is sheer indignation and outrage at what I see as abuse."
Hill's missive leaves Mosley, who has a few high-placed enemies of his own in F1, holed beneath the waterline. Stewart is understood to be considering legal action.
The issue of an immediate apology is the least Mosley needs to do to rescue his dignity, not to mention his authority. Mosley is an erudite man with a keen intellect. But on occasions, he can be too clever by half.