Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Table for two?

Richard Williams reveals that the two most interesting people of 2007, Max Mosley and Ron Dennis, recently had dinner together at the Poissonnerie de l'Avenue, a seafood restaurant "a stone's throw from the president of the FIA's Knightsbridge pad."

Presumably Ron had the turbot.

"I had him to a little dinner at that table," Mosley volunteered...pointing across the restaurant, "and I said, 'Ron, you've won the world championship, you're very rich, you've got a lovely wife and family, you've got everything that anybody could want - and yet you can't relax and enjoy it. Just chill out.' But he can't. And probably that's one of the reasons why he's successful."

Of course, in suggesting that Ron should 'relax and enjoy it', Max wanted to suggest that Ron should retire from the helm of McLaren. Perhaps, then, the conversation proceded as follows, with Dennis answering:

"I will, when the time is appropriate, when doing so would be in the interests of McLaren, and not necessarily in my own interests or the interests of those who seek to damage McLaren, implement a successful and transparent transfer of responsibility within the McLaren organisation."

The right-corner of Ron's mouth curled upwards as he paused, glancing briefly out the window, before turning to fix his gaze on Mosley once more. "I trust, Max, that as the President of the international automobile federation, you will also appreciate the importance of long-term planning, and you will also be in the advanced stages of preparing your own succession plan. I trust that, just as Martin Whitmarsh is already my anointed successor within the McLaren organisation, you are also able to inform me of the name of your anointed successor?"

"Oh come on, Ron!" Max poured himself some more wine, and tipped the bottle towards the glass of his dining partner. Ron flicked out his fingers to refuse the offer, but kept his eyes fixed on Mosley. "One of the advantages of the FIA," continued Mosley, "is that it's a democratic institution, unlike an ephemeral trading company such as McLaren. I simply couldn't name my successor, even if I wanted to. And besides, I'm enjoying this. Why would I want to retire now, in my prime?"

Ron mulled this over in silence for a moment, delicately rotating the wine glass between his thumb and fingers. "As democratic institutions go, I would say that the FIA often seems to act in a manner which cannot easily be perceived to be consistent with the exercise of democratic principle. Given the number of global international business stakeholders in Formula 1, Max, and the amount of money they have invested in the sport, it would, I think, be to the benefit of all those stakeholders if they could perceive that there is a plan in place which offers the prospect of a new transparency and impartiality to the mechanics by which the FIA governs the sport."

"Dear old Ron, I would say that from the evidence of this last year, the lack of transparency within McLaren needs addressing with somewhat greater priority."

And so, perhaps, it went.

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