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Now there's a funny thing....

NEWS STORY
20/05/2009

Even though there is a certain amount of what one might call 'history' between the FIA and News International, the media group owned by Rupert Murdoch, an incident on Monday appears strange, to say the least.

It will be remembered that at the height of the 2007 spy scandal, in an article in the Sunday Times, former driver turned commentator and columnist Martin Brundle claimed the FIA's pursuit of McLaren was a "witch hunt". The FIA responded by launching a lawsuit.

Subsequently, after a certain amount of huffing and puffing, the lawsuit was quietly dropped and the Times was subsequently given an exclusive interview with Max Mosley. That said, F1's governing body remained somewhat hacked off with Brundle and it was subsequently alleged that it attempted to prevent the Englishman landing a new role with the BBC when coverage of the sport moved from ITV.

Then, in 2008, came the infamous S&M scandal, a story broken by the News of the World, like the Times and Sunday Times part of the News International media giant.

In addition to exposing Max Mosley's private life, News International was the most vociferous when calling on the sport to rid itself of the FIA President claiming that to allow him to continue in his position - no pun intended - would do irreparable damage.

Despite the widespread condemnation, Mosley not only stood his ground, he successfully sued the News of the World, had the privacy laws changed, and, judging by current events, tightened his grip on F1.

There are some who claim the exposure of his private life was the result of the spy scandal, while others believe it was for having the temerity to sue New International for Brundle's "witch hunt" comment in the first place.

Either way, there remains a certain amount of bad blood between the two, with Bernie Ecclestone continuing to use the Times in order to get his thoughts out to the masses having made good use of the newspaper at the height of the S&M scandal, when he, along with many others, thought it best for all concerned that Mosley should walk away from the sport.

Bearing all this in mind however, one has to ask, what on earth might have caused the Times to change the headline of a story from 'Max and Bernie must go' to 'Ferrari must play fair or go' within the space of a few hours.

While the stories remain essentially the same, with writer, Edward Gorman, insisting: "Mosley and Ecclestone have run the sport for years as a double act. Until both of them have gone the backroom deals can be expected to continue and the sport will be the poorer for it", the difference between the two headlines couldn't be greater.

What next, Rupert Murdoch to step down from News International in order to "lead the growth" of a new "sports car business"?

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