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DAVID FROST: How can one of the fastest sports in the world suddenly become boring? The domination of Formula One this year by Michael Schumacher meant television audiences started to switch off. Something needed to be done to bring back the excitement and the viewers. Earlier this week the Formula One commission announced ... proposals to shake up the sport, single car qualifying, a new points system, new tyre regulations. But will it work? Well joining me now is Max Mosley, the president of the governing body, FIA, the FIA. Max, welcome, very good to have you with us. Do you think that these reforms, or whatever they are, are going far enough?
MAX MOSLEY: Well, at the beginning we talked about going further and I think there was an argument for that, of course in the end there's a compromise. I think it will certainly make the racing much more interesting next year because the whole qualifying system has changed so with any luck I think we'll see some really interesting racing next year.
DAVID FROST: But you need really Michael Schumacher to be off form, I suppose.
MAX MOSLEY: Well it's not just him, the car is brilliant and this season they've had the best tyres. Now that can all change very quickly, there's Williams and McLaren or one or two of the others could catch up or Michelin, who do the tyres for the other teams, might suddenly come up with a much better tyre. It can change very, very quickly.
DAVID FROST: Could change. But mainly the big three. The other two of the big three are the only ones who've got a chance, aren't they?
MAX MOSLEY: At the moment, but of course, again, they come, one can expect, I think Renault and Jaguar, over the next year or two, to catch up as well.
DAVID FROST: What about the thing, I think Bernie was one of the people who put this forward, this idea that the drivers should drive all the different cars in order to get more competition?
MAX MOSLEY: Well Bernie's now denying any responsibility for that.
DAVID FROST: Is he?
MAX MOSLEY: But I think it probably was mainly me. Well there's a great argument for that because it would be the way to find out which was the best driver and which was the best car, because you always have this slight unfairness in that you could get a mediocre driver in a really good car winning when perhaps he shouldn't. If you put them all, swap them all around, you eliminate that factor. But the practical difficulties are too great.
DAVID FROST: Too great - in what way? Just ...
MAX MOSLEY: Well, first of all the sizes of the different drivers, fitting them in the cockpits. But most of all you've got the sponsorship agreements and all the contracts in place. There would have been a long period letting the contracts run out.
DAVID FROST: And in terms - Frank Williams said that the tracks, some of the tracks are out of date, compared to the new cars and so on. Is that true do you think?
MAX MOSLEY: Absolutely true because they need, everything being equal, you need about a mile to get by with the modern cars because their braking distance is so short. They need about 80 metres to come down from 220, 230 miles an hour down to about 50. Unbelievable performance now, and the tracks simply don't allow the driver enough time to get past, in some cases. All the new tracks that are being built, that factor's being eliminated - we've got ways of doing that - and we're changing some of the old tracks, but Frank's absolutely right about that.
DAVID FROST: But I mean overtaking is one of the things that people want to see more of, isn't it?
MAX MOSLEY: It is, but of course there's a fundamental difficulty there. If you spend two days finding out which car's the fastest, then you put him at the front, let him start at the front, chances are he's going to drive away, so sooner or later we're going to have to face that problem. To some extent we face it with the new qualifying because that puts, it has a chance of putting a fast driver back on the grid through weather or other factors.
DAVID FROST: Is Michael Schumacher the greatest racing driver ever? Or is the Ferrari the greatest ever racing car, or both, or neither?
MAX MOSLEY: Well I think Michael Schumacher is probably the greatest racing driver ever, when you compare all the different other ones and all the things he's done. The car is certainly absolutely outstanding but of course it's a combination of the two. Michael works seven days a week and all the hours. He goes back after dinner, into the garage, in the evening - other drivers don't do that.
DAVID FROST: And in fact as a new season approaches, I mean is there any sign that the other cars are catching up?
MAX MOSLEY: Well the signs so far, I'm sorry to say, are probably that Ferrari are going to open the gap if anything. But a great deal depends on the tyres, everything is tyres, and if that changes then the gap could suddenly shorten.
DAVID FROST: And that could make a difference. Is there anything you'd like to do to change the television coverage? Can you make it more exciting, obviously if it's a procession, it's a procession and there's not much you can do about that.
MAX MOSLEY: Well Bernie has his digital cover, which up to now has been pay TV, with a lot of on board cameras and of course it is fascinating to see the thing from a driver's perspective. Now he's going to make that available on the free to air television next year, so I think we'll see much more of the race from the driver's point of view, and suddenly that does get very, very interesting.
DAVID FROST: But if it doesn't work, if the reforms don't work, then you've got to look at even more radical reforms in 12 months time.
MAX MOSLEY: Could do. But I'm confident they will work and I hope you'll come along and see one of them one of these days. But it's a, if they didn't work, yes we would, we'd look at more radical changes.
DAVID FROST: More radical changes - which might mean what?
MAX MOSLEY: Well the most obvious one would be to give points for qualifying as well as for the race - world championship points - and then turn the first ten on the grid round the other way, so that the person who has got the fastest time started tenth and the tenth fastest started first, then you're bound to get some overtaking and close racing if you do that.
DAVID FROST: And you've pulled out of the Belgian grand prix because of the tobacco fact.
MAX MOSLEY: Yes, it's very unfortunate that because we have been campaigning, together with the World Health Organisation, for a global ban on tobacco sponsorship in 2006 and everything is now geared towards that date, the 1st October 2006. And it's quite difficult to persuade the teams to do this, when one country suddenly jumps the gun by three years like that, it serves us no purpose because everybody in Belgium is still going to see tobacco sponsorship coming from outside Belgium. All it means is we lose a very good race and the local economy loses many, many tens of millions of pounds.
DAVID FROST: That October 2006 is a definite date. Max thank you very, very much for being with us this morning. Max Mosley there.
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