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Ecclestone: I don't want a war with Max

NEWS STORY
21/05/2008

Just twenty-four hours before the first practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix - the most high-profile and glamorous event on the World Championship calendar, the jewel in F1's crown, Bernie Ecclestone has responded to the letter sent out by Max Mosley last Friday.

In the letter to the Presidents of the FIA member clubs, Mosley warned that F1 was under threat, and though he didn't name names it was quite clear who he was pointing the finger at.

Unsurprisingly, in responding to Mosley, Ecclestone has chosen to talk to The Times, the Murdoch-owned sister newspaper to the News of the World, which first broke the orgy story, and where Edward Gorman has kept readers fully up to date, sometimes at the expense of the sort of news F1 fans really want to read about. On the day that Super Aguri withdrew from the 2008 World Championship, a significant moment in the sport's recent history, the lead story was (yet again) reserved for Mosley.

Referring to the letter, which Pitpass noted at the time appeared to be a "declaration of war", Ecclestone said: "I sincerely hope that it isn't a declaration of war because, if that's what the message should be, then we'll have to defend ourselves."

"That is what anyone would do," he added. "I don't believe that's what Max wanted the letter to say. I don't want to have a war with Max. I hope he doesn't want one with me."

Referring to Mosley's claims, Ecclestone continued: "This whole business is really about what was printed in the News of the World and whether this in any way damaged the FIA clubs or the FIA - that's all. It's nothing to do with anything else and I don't quite know why he's come out and said these things. I am sorry if the press have reported things which he doesn't like, but we certainly don't have any influence over the FIA."

Previously, CVC Capital Partners, which owns the commercial rights to F1, has remained silent, but now, no doubt spurred by Mosley's letter, and the clear inference contained, has leapt into action.

Ecclestone reveals that a meeting has taken place in order to discuss the contents of Mosley's letter, the F1 supremo describing the mood as one of "irritation and anger". At the meeting it was decided that CVC will write to the Presidents of the FIA member clubs in an attempt to "set the record straight".

"We have decided we are going to contact all the clubs who Max wrote to, with a reply to the matters raised in his letter," said Ecclestone.

Referring to the forthcoming meeting in Paris on June 3, Ecclestone insists that it should focus on Mosley's fitness for office and no other issue.

"I think the General Assembly of the FIA was called for one reason only," he said, "to decide whether or not they think Max is the right person to be their president. The vote will be on that, not about the Concorde Agreement."

As for Mosley's warning that the sport is under threat, with the money men seeking to take control, Ecclestone said: "I don't see any problems up until a couple of months ago." A clear dig at the sex scandal.

Clearly the gloves are now off, and Ecclestone and CVC have recognised that Mosley's letter was indeed a 'declaration of war'.

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