PARIS (Reuters) - Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone hoped on Tuesday that the sport would not suffer for the governing FIA’s decision to allow Max Mosley to stay as president after a sex scandal.
“It’s business as usual as far as I’m concerned,” the Briton, who represents the sport’s commercial rights holders, told Reuters in a telephone interview from his London office.
“I hope it hasn’t destabilised sponsors or manufacturers.”
Mosley won a vote of confidence by 103 to 55 in a secret ballot of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) general assembly.
The 68-year-old had ignored calls to quit since March when the tabloid News of the World newspaper published details and photographs of his involvement in what was described as a Nazi-style sado-masochistic orgy with prostitutes.
Ecclestone, who has had a close working relationship with Mosley for nearly four decades, said last weekend that the Briton should stand down.
Some Formula One manufacturers and former world champions have also either questioned Mosley’s position or called for him to resign.
Ecclestone, said the commercial rights holders had a 100 year agreement with the FIA regardless of who was president and that would continue unchanged.
However he questioned how effectively Mosley, who has said he will stand down at the end of his term in office in October 2009, might be able to operate in the Formula One paddock.
Mosley was present at last month’s Monaco Grand Prix but kept a low profile and delegated his ceremonial duties to FIA vice-president Marco Piccinini.
“I’ve always said publicly that I thought he (Mosley) should stand down at the end of the year,” said Ecclestone.
“We are now in a position where nobody quite knows (what will happen). All those who said things in the past, I don’t imagine they are going to change their opinion now,” added the 77-year-old billionaire.
“It’s going to be difficult for him to act as a president of the FIA if the people who said before that they don’t want to meet with him maintain that position,” he added.
The FIA represents both motor racing associations and ordinary motoring organisations, with many of the former backing Mosley while the big guns in the latter grouping have been opposed.
Germany’s ADAC and the Automobile Association of America (AAA), with more than 50 million members in the United States, had both called on Mosley to quit.
The ADAC said after the vote that they would freeze their involvement in FIA working groups at world level while the AAA was reviewing its position.
However a more conciliatory note was struck by BMW’s Formula One team boss Mario Theissen.
“The relevant bodies of the FIA have passed a vote of confidence in Max Mosley, which means he will see out his term of office as President of the FIA, ending in October 2009,” he said in a statement.
“We respect this decision, which was made by the delegates in full knowledge of the facts. It is important now for everyone concerned to turn their undivided attention back to the sport.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Lovell