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Saturday, 21 October, 2000, 11:06 GMT
Angry Mosley wins McLaren apology
McLaren team owner Ron Dennis has apologised to motor racing boss Max Mosley for criticising the way Formula One is run.
Mosley made thinly-veiled threats to Dennis, who had sniped at the Japanese Grand Prix at the beginning of October that the sport's authorities made decisions that favoured his rival, Ferrari.
Mosley wrote a strongly-worded letter to Dennis, in which he was clearly angered by suggestions that the championship was fixed.
Mosley released this letter to the media at the Malaysian Grand Prix, prompting Dennis to make public the apology he had written.
The row had very serious undertones. Mosley had said in his letter to Dennis that "there comes a point when the interests of Formula One as a sport are threatened."
This is a clear indication that Mosley believes Dennis' accusations come close to bringing the sport into disrepute, a charge for which participants in F1 can be banned.
Dennis clearly understood what Mosley was getting at - he wrote a letter of apology to Mosley in a distinctly mollifying tone. This letter was in turn released to the media.
"It certainly has not ever been my intention to damage a sport to which I have devoted most of my working life," Dennis wrote.
Mosley's letter said: "Instead of attacking the FIA, you should be grateful that you have a governing body which attempts to prevent difficulties from arising rather than try to deal with them when it is too late.
"If you think you could do better you can (as I have already suggested to you) start your own series with your own sporting and technical rules.
"What you should not do, however, is enter our F1 world championship on whose rule-making body you sit and whose regulations and procedures have been known to you for more than 30 years and then undermine it by constantly complaining to anyone in the media who will listen."
Dennis had criticised the appointment of Italian Roberto Causo as a race steward for the Japanese race, in which his driver, Mika Hakkinen, lost his world crown to Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.
He also said it was wrong for the FIA to tell the drivers on the eve of the Japanese race that they faced bans if they blocked the title contenders.
Dennis, the chairman of the TAG McLaren Group that owns the McLaren team, has now insisted he had not been out to damage F1 and meant no disrespect to Causo.
"I sincerely believe that a careful analysis of my public comments over the course of the weekend will show that I was in fact fair and circumspect," he wrote.
"I would be deeply distressed if I believed any of my comments over the course of the weekend were to have been interpreted as anti-Italian or disrespectful to Mr Causo.
"If any of my comments were misinterpreted so as to cause embarrassment to Mr Causo then I wholeheartedly apologise.
"I hope that I understand the complexity of F1 and I believe that the FIA administer a well-run sport."
Dennis had not been happy with the appointment of Causo, a lawyer who represented Ferrari after its two cars were disqualified from the Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999. Causo also represented one of the defendants in the trial arising from the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994.
He did not apologise for his criticisms of the decision to warn the drivers.
The double blast proved too much for Mosley, who recently fought off an attempt by Dennis and two other team bosses to unseat him as president.
"No one in the FIA objects to criticism, particularly if it is properly thought out and rational, but there comes a point when the interests of F1 as a sport are threatened," said Mosley in his letter to Dennis.
"You do a lot of damage when, as a team principal, you constantly suggest that the Formula One World Championship is not properly or fairly run.
"Although I am sure you would not intend such a thing, your actions might also be seen as an attempt to intimidate our officials, something which is now a recognised problem in other sports.
"This all discourages new sponsors and new fans. Indeed at a certain level such conduct can be a breach of the International Sporting Code."
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