Fabrizia Pons is as well-placed as anyone to know what makes former World Rally champion Ari Vatanen tick, and she admits that she can think of no-one better to succeed Max Mosley as FIA president.
Pons was herself regarded as one of the best in her job, having co-driven Michèle Mouton to second in the WRC standings in 1982 and then sat alongside Vatanen in 1994 and taken part on the Paris-Dakar rally, and believes that her former colleague is the best of the various rumoured candidates to take over at the head of world motorsport.
"Ari is a great man, a firm and calm person, with values and principles, a gentleman," she told 422race.com
, "To discuss with him is always a pleasure: you can go from bikes to cars, from airplanes to religion. He is a person with a vast culture and extremely interesting but, above all, he can speak to the heart of people. I am a great admirer of him both as a man and as a driver - for me to race with him was a real honour. I recall with great pleasure his calm in every situation, both inside and outside the car. Often his incredible speed could have lead to a mistake, but he was always able to maintain the necessary concentration in the crucial moment and to read your mind."
Despite the names of Jean Todt, Ron Dennis and Automobile Club de Monaco president Michel Boeri all having been thrown into the ring, Pons still feels that Vatanen is the man.
"Jean Todt, together with Vatanen, is a serious and important candidate as FIA president, even if I wouldn't exclude the possibility of a surprise, a third candidate," she mused, "However, for me, [Vatanen] is surely the right person for this job. He is a sportsman and a former politician, he was also in the European Parliament, so he is an intelligent and bright man and I think his political background, added to the sport one, is very important, because today sport is politics too, as the recent events in F1 have shown. I think he is a great man and I would be very happy should he win."