I was planning to write an article about who Max Mosley’s successor as FIA president could be as he was expected to stand down in 2009. However following the allegations about his sex life made today his immediate future is now in doubt.
So who is likely to take over from Mosley, one of the most powerful men in Formula 1? Here are a few names:
Marco Piccinini has been deputy president of the FIA since 1998 and were Mosley to resign the Italian would probably take over, at least in the short term until new elections were held.
Piccinini is best known as a Ferrari man – he became sporting director of the Italian team in 1978 and took over briefly following Enzo Ferrari’s death in 1988 – he had also been Ferrari’s private banker. During this period he was closely involved in discussions over the creation of the first Concorde Agreement, the governing document by which F1 is run.
He is still on the board of directors for the Italian team, but has had several other roles in F1. In 2003 it was rumoured that Piccinini would take over from Bernie Ecclestone when the Briton relinquished commercial control of F1 (although five years later that still hasn’t happened).
(Incidentally, although Wikipedia is not my principal source for this kind of information I do like to check it, and was intrigued to discover Piccinini apparently created his own entry on there.)
The Frenchman, former CEO of Ferrari and the man who led the team’s recovery from the ignominy of 1993 to the glories of the 2000s, has often been linked with the role of FIA President.
His closeness to Ferrari would make him a controversial choice, as would his questionable attitude to sporting integrity. He has rigidly enforced ‘one driver first’ policies at his teams, most famously at Ferrari with Michael Schumacher, but also while leading Peugeot’s assault on the Paris-Dakar rally. He once selected which of his drivers, Ari Vatanen or Jacky Ickx, should win an event based on the outcome of a coin toss…
Todt first got into rallying by being a co-driver, and later took on former FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre (who recently passed away) when his compatriot introduced radical changes to rallying regulations in the mid-1980s.
At present members of the World Motor Sports Council cannot vote on matters where they are perceived to have conflicts of interest. Many F1 teams, particularly McLaren, may feel Todt unsuitable to judge on any matter relating to F1 due to his long relationship with Ferrari.
A no less controversial choice. Richards managed the Benetton team in 1998 and later returned with BAR-Honda, bringing the struggling team to second in the championship in 2004 before leaving. He was supposed to be leading Prodrive in the sport this year, but Mosley’s failure to implement rules allowing customer cars prevented it from happening.
Richards was critical of Mosley afterwards, and if he were to launch a successful bid for president introducing customer cars would surely be high on his list of priorities.
Like Todt, Richards has been involved in rallying – his Prodrive outfit have run former world champions Subaru for many years. Richards has also been involved in promoting the sport.
Several potential challengers could come from within the World Motor Sports Council. There are seven vice-presidents, none of whom ordinarily get much attention relating to Formula 1.
They include Michel Boeri, who has run the Automobile Club de Monaco for 30 years having taken over from his father. Nazir Hoosein infamously served as an F1 steward and was responsible both for allowing Michael Schumacher to win the 1998 British Grand Prix by taking a penalty after the race had finished, and giving a very controversial penalty to Juan Pablo Montoya at Sepang in 2002 (more on Hoosein here).
Outside the WMSC there are a few unlikely but surely popular potential choices. Damon Hill, former F1 champion and current president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, would be my favourite. And for irony value, how about Martin Brundle?
Who would you like to see become FIA president?