Former FIA president Max Mosley believes he might have kept BMW and Toyota in Formula 1 had he visited the manufacturers' bosses to explain the reasoning behind his budget cap plan.
In the second of two articles for Britain's Daily Telegraph, Mosley gave his view of the crisis that gripped F1 when the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) threatened to split from the FIA World Championship earlier this year during a disagreement over future rules and governance.
BMW and Toyota announced in subsequent months that they were pulling out of F1. Mosley thinks the companies' boards were misinformed by their F1 teams and regrets not explaining the FIA's position in person.
"Mistakes? There was perhaps one major error on my part," Mosley wrote. "During the period between the two WMSC decisions in March and April, I should have taken the trouble to visit each of the car company CEOs individually and explain exactly what we were doing and why. Had I done this, I think BMW would still be with us and, just possibly, Toyota. It would have been easy to demonstrate that with the cost cap, they could have had the same for far less. But this was never a message their team principals were going to give them."
He denied suggestions that he had been eager to usher the manufacturer teams out of F1. "The loss of BMW and Toyota (as well as Honda) is sad because it was so unnecessary," said Mosley. "The only light relief has been the Ferrari suggestion that this was all a plot (by me) to get rid of the manufacturers. To believe this, it is necessary to assume that the bosses of BMW and Toyota were lying when they gave the need to save costs as their reason for leaving. You also have to believe they needed to hide the truth for some mysterious reason."
Mosley also reiterated his belief that FOTA would never have been able to go through with its breakaway plan. "FOTA's announcement might excite gullible elements of the media and frighten the commercial rights holders and their banks, but that's as far as it would go," Mosley wrote. "This is because a breakaway would result in two rival championships: the official FIA Formula 1 World Championship and a new FOTA championship. The latter would have had all the top teams and drivers except for Williams and Force India, while the former would have the contracts, the name Formula 1 and the tradition. Formula One Management (i.e. Bernie Ecclestone) could not join the breakaway even if he wanted to, because of his commercial agreements with the FIA.
"Knowing that the breakaway would fail completely without circuits and TV coverage, the race promoters and TV companies would have had FOTA and the major manufacturers in a hopeless negotiating position."