How Mosley lost F1 power battle
Formula 1 woke up this morning to an unfamiliar feeling - there has been a power struggle and Max Mosley lost.
Sure, the agreement that ended the threat of eight of F1's 10 teams quitting the sport and racing in a breakaway championship next year can be dressed up as the FIA president getting what he wanted - and Mosley himself tried to do just that on Wednesday - but the bottom line is that the 'rebel' teams prevailed on every one of their demands.
They objected to Mosley's plan to introduce a budget cap in F1 - and there won't be one, or the two sets of rules that were part of it.
They wanted rules stability - they've got it.
They wanted a reinstatement of the Concorde Agreement, which governs F1 and, among other things, enshrines the role of the teams in the creation of the rules, and which Mosley allowed to lapse - and a new Agreement will be signed shortly.
And, although they did not say so publicly, they wanted Mosley out, having tired of what they saw as his autocratic and arbitrary governance - and he has agreed not to stand again for the FIA presidency when his term expires in October.
It is this last development that is the most striking of all. Mosley is reputed to enjoy power and influence, and yet here he is apparently voluntarily giving it up.
There are two ways of looking at this turn of events.
The pro-Mosley one is that the controversial FIA president is happy to stand down having secured the future of F1.
He has won an agreement from the teams that they will reduce costs (albeit by restricting areas of spending, not by a published spending limit).
He has got new teams into F1, with the potential that, now budgets are coming down, the sport will no longer be a closed shop (and got the road-car manufacturers to agree to supply engines at 6.5m Euros a season to help this along).
And he has negotiated a deal that gets the teams to recognise the role of the FIA as F1's governing body, and got them committed to F1 until 2012.
So Mosley can say that he is happy to go now that he has secured peace.
But the reality is that, so unhappy had the teams become with his governance of F1, none of this would have been achieved without him agreeing to go in the first place.
F1 has only reached this compromise because of the announcement made by the F1 Teams' Association (Fota) late last Thursday night that they were pressing ahead with plans to set up their own championship next year.
Mosley's representatives went around the teams over the weekend, and the message coming back was that they were deadly serious. They were not going to be messed around any more. They were so fed up with Mosley's governance of F1 that they were prepared to go through with the threat
This, apparently, focused the minds of interested parties - and particularly that of the company that owns the commercial rights, the venture capital group CVC.
It bought the rights from Bernie Ecclestone for a stratospheric figure, believed to be about £1.8bn, and funded the purchase with loans.
Servicing those loans is manageable while F1 is a success - but a breakaway would have left CVC with the debt and an asset with no significant value, as the Fota series raced with the best cars and drivers in the world, and the F1 world championship was left with one famous team - Williams, whose last world title was won more than 10 years ago - and not much else.
Understandably, this made CVC and its lenders nervous and it seems pressure was put on Ecclestone, who is their employee, to sort the problem out.
So there were talks in the early part of this week, and then Ecclestone met with Mosley and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, the chairman of Fota, before Wednesday's meeting of the FIA World Council, to thrash out their deal.
In theory, this should be the beginning of a new era for F1.
The teams are all committed to the sport, although of course there is no absolute guarantee a car manufacturer struggling in the global economic climate will not pull the plug.
Rules stability normally leads to good racing, as all the teams close up on each other because understanding of a set of regulations increases - and any negotiations over new rules will be handled in a spirit of compromise not antagonism.
And the old divide-and-conquer game that Ecclestone and Mosley used to play to keep the teams under control will no longer be possible.
Perhaps the most striking development to come out of all of this is that it has become clear that there are now three major forces in F1 - Ecclestone through his F1 Management (FOM) company, the FIA and Fota. And Fota is arguably the most powerful.
Fota's aims include: securing the place of countries with a rich F1 history on the calendar; at least one race in America; fewer races in places where no-one wants to watch; better TV coverage; cheaper ticket prices; disparity of cars and engines between the teams; and that the sport should not be owned by a venture capital company that squeezes out half its profits.
For fans of the sport, the end to this crisis in F1 could turn out to be just the beginning of the good news.