Ari Vatanen has ramped up his bid for the soon-to-be-vacant role of president of the FIA by claiming that he already has the tacit support of some of the more influential motorsport associations around the world.

The former World Rally champion and European parliament member threw his hat into the ring in the build-up to the recent German Grand Prix, and was immediately installed as the 'people's favourite' to succeed Max Mosley, who finally confirmed that he would step down at the end of his current term in October. Vatanen is likely to face opposition from former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt - ironically a former Peugeot stablemate to the Finn during their WRC days - but is hoping that his promise to campaign on a clean slate will see him triumph over Mosley's chosen candidate.

"I have to say, even if Jean Todt is a good friend of mine, the FIA is not a kingdom, where a king hands over his power," he told, "It's very wrong that Jean is presented as the 'son of the king'.

"At the expense of FIA Foundation, Jean goes with a private plane with his girlfriend, supposedly as a FIA representative, to various parts of the world - sometimes he has gone to Asia, sometimes to Canada, sometimes to Buenos Aires, whatever. In fact, he is doing a campaign totally supported, and paid for, by the FIA. This is much like [Mosley] nominating his descendent.

"I believe in the people's judgement, that every single person who sees it says 'this is not right'. The FIA is a republic. I'm sorry to say that but, in the objective assessment by me and all the educated observers who are well informed, Jean means that the current FIA would continue and the current system and people would more or less stay in place. There would be no change and that would be such an injustice to that big majority who want to have a renewed, fair, transparent FIA they can be proud of. Who can be proud of the FIA today? Not many people, apart from those who are benefiting from it.

"Michel Boeri is [another] possible [candidate], but we are on the same side, because we are both for a new FIA. We are definitely against conserving the current FIA, which Jean represents. We are the persons for the change."

Insisting that he is not riding a ticket for anyone but himself and his future vision for the FIA, Vatanen claims that he has garnered support from various national motoring bodies, including a couple who were notably outspoken after Mosley was allowed to remain in office following his 2008 sex scandal.

"I'm just back from Spain and both the big Spanish clubs are behind me, the ADAC club is behind me, as is the biggest club in the world, the AAA, in the person of president Bob Dalbernet," he revealed, "We also need people from Asia and Africa behind a credible candidate because, when people see a long-awaited change is happening, they want to contribute. I emphasise once again this is not my ego trip. I know how fragile men's life is, but it's my point of honour to restore people's faith in the FIA.

"For me, this is a new special stage [and I decided to take it] because it feels natural. I'm very philosophical in life. Men can force their destiny, they can control their lives. When there's an opening in life, I think it's a duty of mankind to go for it. We know FIA needs a reform and the big, big majority of people involved in the FIA are not happy with the current state of affairs.

"I was always a very idealistic person. I believe in justice, that's why I went to politics. I've seen a lot of poverty, misery and injustice in life and I think it's a human duty for all of us, when we see injustice, to try to contribute to put it right. Now I saw an opening in this situation to confederate with other bright-minded people, to be their conductor - because you always need one - so that people's frustration can be channelled towards the hope for a better FIA."

"The overriding principle is that the rule of law - and of a transparent, democratic governance - is applied to the FIA, like anywhere else. As vice-president and heads of the commissions, we don't need to have honorary members, or people that are there just because they are friends of somebody or for their nationality, but competent people. If you realise that you have made a mistake, you have to change it and to reshuffle but, in [the case of the] FIA, a reshuffle is not enough - you need new people.

"As I've said first thing, if - with capital letters, big 'I' and big 'F' - me and my team get there, the first thing we would do would be to change the electoral procedure, so that people could get rid of me, either because I don't want to stay there because of who I am or because I'm protected by the rules. [I only want to stay] because people believe in me and they have a trust in me."

Despite effectively standing in opposition to Mosley and all he and the current FIA represents, Vatanen insists that he is not being put forward as a candidate by the F1 teams.

"I'm definitely not the puppet of FOTA - I'm not their representative, but I do understand the business life," he stressed, "Now [the governing body] suddenly wants to slash off half of their workforce without any consultation or negotiations. If it reduces the costs, of course, let's do it, but let's find a sensible way to do it, in the consultation with all the partners. [Ferrari and Toyota] are not in the sport for fun. They are in the sport because it makes sense, in the survival of the company, and it's an investment in the future. But if they are wasting money by being in the motorsport, they will find other venues to use the marketing money.

"There is one domain where FIA must remain absolutely independent and it's when it comes to safety regulations, crash tests or anything else, even if these issues can also be discussed, but maintaining an independence. When it comes to commercial issues, if we don't give them a reasonable or even attractive working environment, they go elsewhere. Had they gone to a parallel championship, it would have been a disaster, but it would have been because they were obliged to go. People didn't seem to believe them - it was like a desperate gesture from their side. They did not want to go, because it would have been lot of work for them, but it was reasonable."


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