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F1 carmakers question Mosley's leadership in scandal's wake

4/3/2008

MANAMA, Bahrain -- Leading Formula One car
manufacturers put pressure on Max Mosley to resign as president
of the sport's governing body on Thursday after a sex scandal
involving the Briton.

Mosley, who has said he will stay at the helm of the
International Automobile Federation (FIA), showed no sign of
changing his mind, however.

Meanwhile, FIA said in a statement Thursday that Mosley had called a special assembly of the federation to consider the issue. The full FIA membership was invited to a meeting in Paris at the earliest possible date.

"The widespread publicity following an apparently illegal invasion of the FIA's President's privacy will be discussed," the statement said.

Mercedes, BMW, Honda and Toyota all issued statements
critical of Mosley's position after Britain's News of the World
Sunday tabloid detailed how he had paid for sex with
prostitutes in what was depicted as a Nazi-style orgy. But the statements stopped short of calling for his resignation.

"Toyota Motorsport does not approve of any behavior which
could be seen to damage Formula One's image, in particular any
behaviour which could be understood to be racist or
anti-Semitic," the Japanese carmaker said.

"Senior figures within any sport or business, including
motorsport, must adhere to high standards of behavior.

"When all the facts are known, it will be for the FIA to
decide whether Mr. Mosley has met the moral obligations which
come with the position of FIA president."

Mosley, who has blamed a "covert" operation against him and
is taking legal action against the newspaper, apologized to all
national FIA clubs and bodies in a letter on Tuesday but said
he would not stand down.

He also denied any "Nazi connotation to the matter," as
reported by the newspaper.

The Times of London newspaper reported that Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa wrote Mosley asking him to stay away.

"The focus quite rightly should be on the race. With great regret, I feel that under the current circumstances, it would be inappropriate for you to be in Bahrain at this time," the Crown Prince wrote in a letter sent to Mosley and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday.

German manufacturers BMW and Mercedes, who are partners with McLaren,
issued a joint statement before Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix
making clear that the scandal was not simply a personal matter.

"The content of the publications is disgraceful," they
declared. "As a company, we strongly distance ourselves from
it.

"This incident concerns Max Mosley both personally and as
president of the FIA, the global umbrella organization for
motoring clubs," they added.

"Its consequences therefore extend far beyond the motor
sport industry. We await a response from the relevant FIA
bodies."

Mosley, in a statement to Reuters, issued a sharp reply.

"Given the history of BMW and Mercedes Benz, particularly
before and during the Second World War, I fully understand why
they would wish to strongly distance themselves from what they
rightly describe as the disgraceful content of these
publications," he said.

"Unfortunately, they did not contact me before putting out
their statement to ask whether the content was in fact true.

"No doubt the FIA will respond to them in due course as I
am about to respond to the newspaper in question."

Honda said senior figures in sport and business had to
maintain the highest standards of conduct.

"The Honda Racing F1 Team is extremely disappointed by
recent events surrounding Mr Mosley and we are concerned that
the reputation of Formula One and all its participants is being
damaged," their statement said.

"We request that the FIA gives this matter careful
consideration and reaches an immediate decision in the best
interests of F1 and Motorsport."

There was no immediate comment from champions Ferrari and
Renault.

The German and Japanese car companies were previously
united in the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA)
which clashed with Mosley repeatedly while threatening to set
up a rival series before a deal was reached.

Mosley said on Tuesday that he had received considerable
support from within the FIA and motor sport "suggesting that my
private life is not relevant to my work and that I should
continue in my role.

"I am grateful and with your support I intend to follow
this advice."

Former F1 champions Jackie Stewart and Jody Scheckter have called on Mosley to step down before his mandate ends in October 2009.

While Ferrari and Renault made no comment, Ferrari's world
champion Kimi Raikkonen -- no stranger to tabloid scrutiny in
his native Finland -- offered a degree of support to Mosley.

"It's his personal life. For me, he can do whatever he wants
and it's not really my business or anybody else's to put their
nose in it," the Finn told reporters.

Nico Rosberg also alluded to the scandal.

"We are racing drivers and we need to try and set a good example in general, because their are people watching you," the Williams driver said. "It's important to think about other people, young people especially. Young drivers coming up -- you need to set a good example for them, especially."

A video posted Sunday on the News of the World's Web site showed a man identified as Mosley arriving at an apartment and taking part in sex acts with women, one in a prisoner's uniform, while speaking German. The video can no longer be found on the paper's Web site.

Mosley termed the tabloid report a "wholly unwarranted invasion of my privacy."

Mosley is the son of British Union of Fascists party founder Oswald Mosley, a former British politician who served in Parliament for both the Labour and Conservative parties. Oswald Mosley died in 1980.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.