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An interview with FIA President Max Mosley and FOM President Bernie Ecclestone, conducted by Michael Schmidt of Auto Motor und Sport
In May 2001 GPWC declared war on the Formula One Establishment. How do you see the last five years?
Bernie Ecclestone: Let me speak about the commercial aspects. We have agreed the commercial terms, agreed on everything we are responsible for. In the end everyone was very helpful and wanted to get the job done. Mr. Dassas from Renault was the one who accelerated the process. I can't speak for the FIA.
Max Mosley: Firstly, we never thought in reality there was ever the slightest prospect of a rival series being set up. All we want to do was make sure that the rules were fair and equal, and that the cost-level was such that we could get a reasonable number of teams which were able to compete on equal terms.
The difficulty was that when we invited the teams at the start of 2005 to discuss the rules for 2008, a number of them didn't turn up. In one way, this was a pity, but in another way it made it easier for us to decide what we thought was right.
Do you feel like winners now?
MM: I don't think you can ever talk in terms of winning. There are clichés one could use, that it was a victory for common sense, but I would say that what has now finally happened is in the best interests of the sport and the outcome was inevitable from the start.
BE: I don't think there are any winners I think we are all losers. We've done a lot of damage to Formula One.
The FIA is a loser, because they were forced to adopt a position. We are losers because we were forced to defend our position. The manufacturers and the teams have suffered more than anybody because the sponsors started putting a question-mark against Formula One where there had never been a question mark before.
We destabilised a sport which had been one of the very few which had been really stable.
Was it necessary to have this aggravation over five years. Wasn't there a shortcut?
BE: The shortcut would have been for them not to have had this silly fight. From the financial point of view they would have got more than they'd ever got. From the FIA's point of view, all they tried to do was to keep the teams alive and well.
MM: Bernie is right, obviously from a commercial point of view everybody lost. But from an FIA point of view what we and also the teams lost was a lot of time. That time could have been used for doing something constructive.
The manufacturers argue, that they won, because they got 50 percent.
BE: Maybe they would have got even more if they had acted differently.
What broke the ice finally?
MM: Mr. Dassas from Renault broke the log-jam. He saw that there was nothing to be gained by going on and much to be gained by stopping. He then pushed the others into stopping.
Were you ever concerned that it could have gone the wrong way?
MM: No, because I know the practical difficulties of trying to set up a rival championship. It would have been possible to set up a rival series, but that would not have had the same credibility.
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