Fans don’t forgive you for being indecisive, says former FIA president Max Mosley


Criticism is inevitable when making big decisions, says Max Mosley, in the wake of the Australian Grand Prix cancellation. The key is to make your mind up quickly

Max Mosley next to the FIA logo

Mosley was FIA president from 1993 to 2009


Formula 1 crises demand a quick response because people will forgive you for being wrong but not for being indecisive, said Max Mosley, in the wake of the cancelled Australian Grand Prix.

Mosley, who was head of the FIA, motor sport’s governing body, between 1993 and 2009, said that criticism was inevitable when making high-profile decisions, because there was never enough information.

“I think the general principle is that people can forgive you for being wrong but they can’t forgive you for being indecisive,” he said. “You’ve got to take a decision and the sooner you take it, the better.”

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Formula 1 faced a barrage of criticism for pressing ahead with plans to run the Australian Grand Prix this weekend. Drivers added their voice when they arrived in Melbourne on Thursday, with Lewis Hamilton calling the decision “shocking”.

Calls to cancel the race grew louder when it emerged that members of the paddock had been tested for coronavirus, but it was only when a McLaren team member was confirmed to have the virus, and the team pulled out, that the race was called off — with a wait of several hours for official confirmation.

Mosley said that he was never faced with a comparable situation, but did have to handle the disastrous 2005 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, where the seven Michelin-shod teams found that their tyres were not durable enough to run at full speed on the banking.

“[It was] one of those situations where you have to make your mind up and whatever you do, you’re going to get criticised for, but that goes with the territory,” he said.

“Obviously all big decisions are taken with insufficient information. That’s life. Think of any example you like; if you’ve got all the information the decision makes itself.

“At the time everybody’s shouting in your ear, in the end we did what we did.

“Looking back, it was 100 per cent the right thing to do even though it annoyed an awful lot of people. It’s very difficult. You’re never absolutely certain – far from it.”

A fan holds up a Mosley is to blame sign at the 2005 United States Grand Prix

Indianapolis 2005: “Whatever you do, you get criticised for,” says Mosley


Mosley stood firm against the Michelin teams at Indianapolis, refusing appeals to modify the track and reduce the speed that the cars ran on the banked section.

It resulted in all 14 Michelin-runners pulling in to the pitlane at the end of the parade lap, leaving a grid of six to race in front of disgruntled fans.

“There was really nothing to be done because Michelin couldn’t produce a tyre that was safe,” said Mosley. “We gave the Michelin teams three ways they could run, including going through the pitlane, all of which of course would have been a disadvantage.

“They would be looking at seventh or eighth place. I think they thought they could strong-arm us into putting in a chicane, but that was just out of the question for sporting reasons but probably more important for legal reasons.”