Jan 5, 2009

Sport - F1;Jackie Stewart says time for F1 supremos to go

LONDON: Former world champion Sir Jackie Stewart blasted Formula One chiefs Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley in an interview on Monday, saying the time had come for them to step aside.

In an interview with The Times, Stewart said Ecclestone, Formula One's commercial rights-holder, had become far too powerful and was too close to Mosley, the president of F1 governing body the FIA.

He said Ecclestone played a key role in making F1 what it is today, "but having done it, he now rules and nobody is up for taking on a battle with him".

"Bernie has such power and influence that he could suffocate almost any performer who would dare to suggest that there must be change," Stewart said, while also complaining that there was no plan for when the 78-year-old retires.

"He has been so used to total control that if you look at his structure you have to ask yourself 'is there a successor?' and you would say 'no'. That is wrong. The commercial reality has to be recognised... and there has be continuity that the ageing process makes necessary," Stewart said.

The F1 great also condemned the way revenues were apportioned as "untenable", saying teams should get a greater share.

Stewart has not been shy to criticise the sport's set-up in the past, but said the fact that others would not speak out was unhealthy. "They haven't looked after the house properly and the foundations are built on just this two-man working relationship," Stewart said.

"This has evoked concern and apprehension on the part of those involved in the sport. When Max Mosley had the scandal erupt around him, how many team principals or owners spoke out? None."

He said the scandal last year -- Mosley won damages from a British newspaper which reported he took part in a Nazi-themed sado-masochistic orgy with prostitutes -- was a perfect opportunity to change leadership at the FIA.

"That opportunity has been overtaken by one man's insistence on remaining, which would have been impossible had it been an Olympic committee, the Football Association or a publicly held company," he said.

"How can we accept that in a sport so dependent on multinational corporations and even governments for its revenues and which also requires a totally transparent and independent rule-making body?"

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