MONACO, May 26 – The McLaren Mercedes motor home installed in the heart of Monte Carlo’s harbour echoed to the sound of celebration Sunday night after Lewis Hamilton’s stirring triumph in the Monaco Grand Prix.
Music blared, drinks were poured and bright orange coloured t-shirts were worn by all involved to mark the team’s victory in the world’s most famous street race.
But as the Anglo-German team revelled in their dramatic victory, there were concerned faces elsewhere in the Formula One paddock – after a warning from four-times drivers’ champion Alain Prost that the sport may face a troubled future.
Briton Hamilton won the Monaco race for the first time in recording his sixth career victory to go top of this year’s title race, but it was the spectre of an off-track power-struggle that was worrying Prost, himself a four-times Monaco winner.
Prost said he was concerned at the prospects of a struggle for control of the sport between embattled Max Mosley, the controversial president of the International Motoring Federation (FIA), and Bernie Ecclestone, the long-term commercial rights holder and the sport’s ringmaster.
Mosley faces a vote of confidence in Paris on June 3 after refusing to resign following lurid revelations in London Sunday tabloid News of the World that he was involved in an alleged ‘Nazi-style’ sex orgy with five prostitutes. In the build-up to the general meeting of the FIA that will decide his future, Mosley has warned that he is concerned about the future of Formula One if he is forced to stand down and made suggestions that irked Ecclestone.
The pair, once close friends and business associates, were involved in an exchange of declarations if not quite a war of words during the prelude to Sunday’s race.
Steering clear of any comment on Mosley’s behaviour, Prost said he was worried that a battle for power may damage Formula One in the wake of the Mosley scandal.
He said: "It could be a danger if you have a big fight for power.
"Now is the right and perfect time to make a good decision for the future of Formula One. If there is a big problem, a big fight, it would not be good for the future, for sure.
"I would be worried (about a fight between Mosley and Ecclestone) because when you need to make the right decision in the next few weeks, there will be a big problem if there’s a big war.
"That would not be good for the sport."
Prost made clear also that he had no interest in succeeding Mosley or becoming president of the FIA.
But he said he would be interested if the ruling body dealt only with motor racing and was not involved in the global administration of all general motoring and road cars, including safety.
He would prefer to see the two roles separated.
He said: "It has always been my idea that they should separate the two things especially with so many big manufacturers now involved.
"If they did, then I may consider that I could be supporting the FIA on the sports [side]. If there was only the sporting side, then I could see my job.
"I know what the FIA is, I know all about the World Motor Sport Council and the Formula One Commission."
He said he could not envisage himself dealing with all the politics of the countries involved in the FIA around the world.
But he conceded that it would be impossible for Formula One to become less political because the stakes are so high.
He added: "Formula One cannot be less political because there is too much money and too many manufacturers involved."