Former World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen has finally confirmed F1 speculation in throwing his hat into the ring to become the next President of the FIA should Max Mosley abdicate the most powerful and influential position in international motor racing in October.
Having initially signalled his intent to step down at the close of his current fourth term in the post later this year as part of the FIA-FOTA peace deal concluded last month, Mosley has since hinted that he may yet reconsider his decision should the entente cordiale
not endure, accusing the Formula One Teams' Association of 'dancing on my grave before I was buried' and claiming that whilst he wishes to stop, he is 'under pressure from all over the world to stand for re-election'.
Such a move would doubtless not be received well by the top flight's competitors, who believe the Englishman's reign has become of late autocratic to the point of bordering on the dangerously arbitrary, and whose dispute with the 69-year-old came perilously close to tearing the sport quite literally in two – a threat that it would seem has not entirely subsided, peace deal or no.
That said, the man believed to be Mosley's favoured successor – controversial ex-Ferrari team principal Jean Todt – would likely be welcomed with similarly little enthusiasm, given the suspicion in parts of the paddock that the FIA is already biased towards the scarlet outfit without
one of its former leaders holding the presidential role. Vatanen, however, would assuredly be a far more popular choice – and the France-domiciled Finn, a member of the European Parliament from 1999 until this year, has revealed that he is willing to stand whether Mosley decides to go or not.
The 1981 WRC Champion – alongside current Prodrive chairman and former BAR-Honda and Benetton team principal David Richards in the co-driving seat – praised Mosley's work and achievements in the field of safety and environmentally-friendly technology during his 16 years in charge and admitted to getting on well with him, but insisted that like in any situation, there comes a time when change is required.
“At the moment I am consulting the member clubs and am already seeing positive feedback,” the 57-year-old, four-time Dakar Rally winner told international news agency Reuters
. “I am considering standing. I think the time has come for a change. I would go for it, even if not sure of winning.”
The governing body is composed of 219 member clubs from 130 countries on five continents, all of whom will vote for the next president.