Stewart: Mosley scandal could hurt F1 finances06/04/2008 - 12:09:42
Jackie Stewart believes the scandal surrounding FIA president Max Mosley could deter potential sponsors from Formula One.
The 'News of the World' today published further lurid allegations regarding the 67-year-old who has so far maintained a defiant stance.
Mosley yesterday insisted he had “done nothing wrong” and that his actions were “harmless and completely legal”.
However, three-times former world champion Stewart feels Mosley has failed to grasp the possible implications from a commercial standpoint, and the damage that could have on the sport.
Speaking in the Formula One paddock ahead of today’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Stewart said: “In this sport you are talking about multi-national corporations because it’s global.
“What’s going on right now could damage them because if you were a multi-national corporation, corporate ethics are part and parcel of daily business.
“If you were such an organisation and the chairman or CEO was excited about coming into Formula One, the marketing director might say ’there’s a lot of stuff going on at the moment, why don’t we hold back until we see how they are going to handle it.’
“So the sport is vulnerable when it comes to moral issues and if it’s called ’scandal’ because that affects the sport as a whole and the perception of it by some cultures and religions we are exposed to.
“If we go to a Muslim country or to a large Jewish organisation, because of what has occurred, they might put any plans on hold.”
As for those sponsors already tied into F1, Stewart feels they could start to get itchy feet the longer the situation drags on.
“Many sponsors are already tied in contractually,” added the 68-year-old Scot, who works on behalf of the Royal Bank of Scotland who are one of the primary sponsors of Williams.
“The problem is if those contracts are coming up for renewal, they might be unhappy the sport has been blemished, and the focus on a grand prix is suddenly on another issue.
“Instead of getting coverage about their sporting achievements and the outcome of the grand prix, they are going to see very little about the actual race and more on the current politics.”
The 68-year-old Scot has reiterated his call for Mosley to stand down, believing the sport’s leadership “has to be whiter than white”.
“If he was chief executive of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), the FA or the International Olympic Committee, he would have already stood down,” added Stewart.
“It demonstrates to me the power he believes he has that he does not have to do that, but it is not a private matter any more, it is public domain.”
Stewart feels Bernie Ecclestone “holds a very key role” in the situation as the F1 supremo has so far refused to condemn Mosley publicly, primarily as he is deputy president of the FIA.
“If he is going to listen to anybody, then he should listen to Bernie because it was he who sold him the commercial rights,” insisted Stewart.
“Bernie has been largely responsible for getting him where he is today.”
At this stage, it appears Mosley will soldier on until a hearing of the extraordinary general assembly, who will decide his fate.
As it takes 45 days’ notice before the meeting can be convened, and then there are the logistics involved of getting the 222 members together at the same time, it is unlikely to take place before the end of May, stretching into June.
“By then we will have had the grands prix of Spain, Turkey, Monaco and Canada, and I don’t think he can hold on for that long,” said Stewart.
“It’s more to do with him saying ’I’m going to have to step down’, than the Federation (FIA) having to vote.
“Because seldom do you go to your own family and ask them if you are going to resign or not.”
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