Less than a week after former World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen announced his intention to stand for the FIA Presidency later this year, ex-Ferrari team principal Jean Todt has confirmed paddock speculation in revealing that he will run against the Finn for the most powerful and influential post in international motor racing.
Todt has the public backing of present incumbent Max Mosley, something Vatanen contends may not necessarily work in the Frenchman's favour [see separate story – click here
]. Mosley has re-iterated his earlier vow not to stand again for a fifth term in the role come 23 October, and endorsed Todt as 'the ideal person to continue and extend the work of the past 16 years' [see separate story – click here
Todt and Vatanen know each other from some time back, when the former was the latter's team boss in rallying at Peugeot, and the man dubbed 'Napoléon' within the paddock has a long and successful history in the sport, starting out as a rally co-driver in the mid-1960s and going on to lead Peugeot to glory in the World Rally Championship, Le Mans 24 Hours and legendary Paris-Dakar Rally.
More recently, he played an instrumental role in Ferrari's run of F1 domination with Michael Schumacher in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with five straight world championship crowns from 2000 to 2004. What's more, the 63-year-old has named the constitution of his 22-strong presidential cabinet should he gain the vote of member clubs, composed of two vice-presidential candidates – New Zealand Automobile Association chief executive Brian Gibbons and British Motor Sports Association (MSA) council chairman Graham Stoker – and current FIA Deputy President Nick Craw as President of the Senate.
“It is my intention to continue and expand the outstanding work of President Mosley,” Todt is quoted as having said by the BBC
. “I am confident that together we will offer the FIA the opportunity to elect a dynamic leadership team of outstanding experience and commitment.”
The news is likely to generate a certain amount of controversy and unease within the F1 paddock, with whispers that the FIA has for too long been biased in favour of the Scuderia
as it is.