SAKHIR, Bahrain – Formula One teams and manufacturers are questioning whether Max Mosley can stay on as FIA president following a sex scandal.
Toyota, Honda, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all issued statements Thursday expressing disappointment over Mosley’s behavior, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.
A British tabloid, The News of the World, reported Sunday that the 67-year-old Mosley participated in sex acts with five prostitutes in a scenario that is believed to involve Nazi role-playing.
“Toyota Motorsport does not approve of any behavior which could be seen to damage Formula One’s image, in particular any behavior which could be understood to be racist or anti-Semitic,” the Japanese car maker said. “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 is not attending the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend, has called it a private matter and said he will take legal action against 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.
BMW and Mercedes-Benz labeled Mosley’s actions “disgraceful.”
“As a company, we strongly distance ourselves from it,” the German car manufacturer said. “This incident concerns Max Mosley both personally and as president of the FIA, the global umbrella organization for motoring clubs. Its consequences therefore extend far beyond the motor sport industry.”
Honda also called on FIA to carefully investigate the matter before issuing a decision.
“It is necessary that senior figures in sport and business maintain the highest standards of conduct in order to fulfill their duties with integrity and respect,” Honda said.
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.
Former F1 champions Jackie Stewart and Jody Scheckter have already called on Mosley to step down before his mandate ends in October 2009.
Most current F1 drivers have refused to comment. Only Nico Rosberg alluded to it.
“We are racing drivers and we need to try and set a good example in general, because there 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.”
Mosley termed the tabloid report a “wholly unwarranted invasion of my privacy.”
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 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.