Bernie Ecclestone: FOTA's Biggest Ally?

Daniel ZylberkanCorrespondent IJune 22, 2009

NORTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 21:  F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone shakes hands with Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing on the grid before the start of the British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone on June 21, 2009 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The FIA-FOTA War has been nothing more than a collection of so called "battles," with both sides issuing press releases, leaking documents, and making legal threats in hopes that their enemy would relent and so called "peace" could return to the Formula One world.

But things got heated in the final moments of this week with Max Mosley releasing documents accusing Ferrari and FOTA of being liars for the most part, and if not liars, just untrustworthy.

FOTA and their associates, Nikki Lauda, Sir Jackie Stewart and others started to throw terms around like "totalitarian" and "dictatorial" when referring to Max Mosley—at the very least comments at his governance style, but more likely jabs at Mosley's infamous activities with some prostitutes in Germany about a year ago.

But strangely, in the midst of this chaos and mudslinging, who has mostly stayed out of it and even called for calm?

Bernie Ecclestone. He has been strangely non committal when it comes to choosing a side in the fight. One moment he is siding with the FIA and saying that the fight is over power, not rules, or threatening to sue the teams over any breach of contract.

But he also sides with the teams saying, "I sympathize with them, nobody wants to be told how to spend their money," and is in more than one case taking part in discussions between the FIA and FOTA as an arbiter and a moderating force.

But the question is why?

Bernie Ecclestone, excuse the poker analogy, holds all of the aces. Formula One with or without the teams cannot exist without Ecclestone, and also if not more importantly, Ecclestone is one of the greediest men on this planet, so he will probably side with whoever will create him the biggest profit.

It is in Ecclestone's best interest for FOTA to stay in the FIA sanctioned championship, circuits since television stations and sponsors would likely drop out of Formula One if the big FOTA teams left the championship. 

Ecclestone could help FOTA in two ways: Either by convincing Mosley that the budget caps are unreasonable and telling him that such radical change in such a short span of time is nearly unrealistic.

Or he could give automatic credence to FOTA by choosing to side with them in commercial matters. FOTA would not have to find a new name, new circuits, new broadcasters, etc.

This would effectively isolate Mosley and the FIA into running a clearly inferior championship, leave them scrambling to find venues, etc. by March of next year—basically undoing what little credibility Mosley had with the casual Formula One fan.

FOM and Ecclestone hold the keys to the safe. Whoever has the treasurer has the treasure, and it would be a great boon to the FOTA breakaway series if they could steal Ecclestone from Mosley and give them an upper hand in fighting this way.