Having already set out his stall as a candidate for the FIA Presidency in October, former World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen has now revealed that if elected, he would dramatically change the way in which the organisation is run – from what he perceives to be presently an 'autocratic' and 'one-sided' manner to one far more focussed on 'common sense' and 'humility'.
One of the key issues in the enduring and destructive FIA/FOTA civil war is the way in which current FIA President Max Mosley is ruling the sport, with accusations of stubborn dictatorship and arbitrariness when it comes to defining the regulations and penalties.
The whole catalyst for the stand-off in the first place was the fact that the Englishman endeavoured to surreptitiously introduce his contentious £40 million budget cap proposal almost under the teams' noses and without prior consultation – something they deemed was not acceptable. Vatanen, it would seem, broadly agrees.
“It's the right time for change,” the Finn is quoted as having said by F1SA
and The Canadian Press
at the Nürburgring this weekend. “You cannot govern in an autocratic manner. You cannot govern any society in a one-sided way; you need to take all partners into account [and] you need to give people a feeling that they are important, because we are all in the same boat.”
Furthermore, whilst Mosley's constant and some believe deliberate antagonism of the teams has driven eight of them to the brink of forming their own 'breakaway' series – something that would tear F1 irreversibly in two, and arguably precipitate its demise – Vatanen is adamant that a far more conciliatory approach is required to quell the threat of a schism at the very heart of the top flight and re-establish peace and unity amongst all parties.
“We have to remain together,” the 57-year-old urged, “and we can only remain together if everybody is smiling – as we say in Finland, it's better to have reconciliation and get a modest agreement than to have a big war.
“If people are voting with their feet it means there is something wrong with the FIA, and that has to be corrected. Imagine if there was a rival series – that would be the end of the FIA as we know it. Everybody would lose, including those in the other series. It's now at the eleventh hour to apply common sense, and maybe a bit of humility would not be bad either.
“Manufacturers [are] seen as if they are on the other side of a barrier. If the daily life in our sport is nothing but battles as it has been recently, they have better things to do. People must be proud of their family, and that's not the case today.”
Vatanen has admitted that one of the principal reasons he chose to throw his hat into the ring for the most powerful and influential post in international motor racing was that he felt he could not just stand by and watch as F1 imploded. What's more, his background in politics – as a member of the European Parliament from 1999 until earlier this year – undeniably leaves him in good stead to assume the presidential responsibilities.