In an interview with The Times, Bernie Ecclestone has denied any involvement in the sting that led to the News of the World revealing Max Mosley's participation in an orgy with five prostitutes earlier this year.
Since the story first broke, there has been widespread speculation as to who might have tipped off the British tabloid. Initially the finger was pointed at McLaren, with some claiming that the British team might have exposed Mosley in a tit-for-tat reprisal following last year's spy saga. Then, once things had calmed down, it was Ecclestone who entered the frame, following Mosley's claim that the Englishman, and other parties, were seeking to take control of Formula One.
Since then, Ecclestone has made a number of statements, reverting between the role of good cop and bad cop, one minute warning Mosley that if he wanted war that is what he would get, then subsequently referring to the FIA President as his old friend of forty years.
Many believe that F1 is heading for a major showdown, and while Ecclestone has the power (brawn), Mosley has the brains. Furthermore, Mosley, an ally of Ecclestone throughout his meteoric rise to power, and is likely to know where the bodies are hidden.
"It is nothing in the world to do with me in any shape or form," Ecclestone told The Times, sister paper to the News of the World. "Secondly, this sort of thing is not my style - not the sort of way I would operate. Thirdly, there is no way in the world that I would want to destroy Max. To suggest I would want to do that is such a lot of b****cks, quite frankly... it's not true."
The FIA's World Motor Sport Council is due to meet in Paris tomorrow (Wednesday), when Mosley is likely to reiterate that the FIA should not negotiate a new Concorde Agreement with Ecclestone until he and CVC have agreed to a number of issues, most notably the distribution of revenue from F1, with Mosley seeking more money for the teams.
Ecclestone believes that should Mosley attempt to force the issue he could come un-stuck.
"I'm sure if that happened, the European Commission would move in," he said. "Under the agreement with the European Commission, the FIA are the regulators of the sport - like the police - and Formula One Management are the commercial rights holders. The money doesn't belong to Max, it doesn't belong to him to touch."
Despite Ecclestone's best efforts, Mosley refuses to talk to him. Some say that the F1 supremo's frustration is compounded by the fact that previously it is to Mosley that Ecclestone would turn for advice. However, Ecclestone is quick to deny this.
"Most of the time it's the other way round," he says. "He calls me for advice."