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 422race.com
, "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.