MANAMA, Bahrain -- Formula One great Jackie Stewart
warned on Sunday that Max Mosley's involvement in a sex scandal
could have a commercial impact on the sport and called for the
FIA president to resign.
"If he was chief executive of the CBI [Confederation of
British Industry], the FA [Football Association] or the Olympic
committee, he would have already stood down," the three-time
champion told Reuters at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
International Automobile Federation head Mosley is suing
British Sunday tabloid The News of the World for unlimited
damages after they published allegations about his involvement
in a sado-masochistic orgy with prostitutes.
The newspaper published further details in its latest
edition on Sunday. Mosley, whose father Oswald founded
the pre-war British Union of Fascists, has denied there were any
Stewart said the affair, which has eclipsed events on the
track this weekend, could make potential sponsors think twice
about entering the sport and suggested commercial boss Bernie
Ecclestone could force Mosley's hand.
"He has to [resign] himself but Bernie Ecclestone
holds a very key role in that," said the Scot.
"If he is going to listen to anybody, then he should listen
to Bernie because it was he who sold him the commercial rights.
Bernie has been largely responsible for getting him where he is
Ecclestone is a member of the FIA's world motorsport
council and, while he may privately want Mosley to tender his
resignation, has refused to join the chorus of those clamoring
publicly for his compatriot's head.
The Automobile Association of America (AAA), the largest
motoring organization in the world with 51 million members in
the United States, called on Saturday for Mosley to go.
"For a multi-national corporation, corporate ethics are part
and parcel of their daily business. There are things you can do
and things you cannot do," said Stewart.
"Even if the chairman of the board or the CEO was excited
about coming into Formula One, the marketing director might turn
around and say 'There's a lot of stuff going at the moment, why
don't we hold back until we see how they are going to handle
"The sport in my opinion is vulnerable when it comes to
Stewart said team bosses were reluctant to speak out about
the situation for fear of retribution but the concern was
"The sport's leadership, unfortunately, has to be whiter
than white," he said.
"That is one of the considerations that I think is now
starting to develop ... most of the team principals are not very
interested in talking about this because they are concerned that
there may be implications of speaking out.
"But now they are beginning to worry about that, about not
speaking out, because if it's going to have a commercial effect
on them they've got to say 'we do not condone this.'"
Most Formula One sponsors are tied to multiple year deals
but Stewart expressed concern about what could happen to deals
coming up for renewal.
Although Mosley has called for an extraordinary general
assembly of the governing body, the meeting could take months to
organize with FIA members dispersed all over the world.
The Monaco Grand Prix on May 25 is the glamor highlight of
the Formula One social calendar and a race that serves as a
magnet for sponsors, dealmakers and multi-national corporations. The proposed meeting
is likely to happen before that.
"I don't think he can hold on for that long," Stewart said.
"It's more to do with him saying 'I'm going to have to step
down' than that Federation having to vote because seldom do you
go to your own family and ask them if you are going to resign or
not," he added.