FIA Presidential hopeful Ari Vatanen has argued that Ferrari 'don't want' former team principal and CEO Jean Todt to take over the most powerful and influential position in international motor racing – despite present incumbent Max Mosley's ringing endorsement of the Frenchman.
Mosley espoused Todt as 'the ideal person to continue but also to extend the work of the past 16 years' and one who 'would preserve the independence of the FIA...as unquestionably the outstanding motorsport manager of his generation and arguably of any generation' [see separate story – click here
]. Even before Todt officially announced that he would be standing for the role, the Englishman encouraged member clubs to back the 63-year-old – something 1981 World Rally Champion Vatanen contends is as fundamentally wrong.
The Finn – a member of the European Parliament until earlier this year, and thereby possessing a strong grasp of politics – is adamant that Mosley should neither have any say in matters regarding his successor, nor express any favouritism. And in any case, he argues, Todt is far from a popular choice amongst the top flight's teams, former employers Ferrari included. There have been murmurings within the grand prix paddock for some time that the governing body is already biased towards the Scuderia
“Although I have criticised the FIA strongly, I have never aimed it at Mosley personally,” the 57-year-old told Spanish newspaper AS
. “It's not good that a leader stays in the post for a long time, though, and when that happens, the best thing is a change. I represent that change, a new era with more freshness.
“On the contrary, Jean Todt represents the old era, and it's not right that Max wants to impose a new leader, and that he uses the power of the federation to support his campaign. The FIA is not a kingdom; it's a republic where the leaders are chosen democratically.
“At Ferrari they don't want Todt to be president, and so they have told me, because they think they sport would lose credibility. The same would happen if it was Ross Brawn or Flavio Briatore running. The President of the FIA must be someone neutral.”
For his part, by contrast, Todt has suggested that if elected he would take steps to improve the efficiency, independence and transparency of the governing body – all of which have come under fire of late – in a bid to 'give something back' to the sport that has given him so much success over the years in rallying, sportscars and F1.
“I am conscious that the FIA is a unique organisation which serves both as the governing body of motorsport and the representative of motoring clubs worldwide,” Forumula 1
quotes the former Peugeot team manager – Vatanen's boss for much of the 1980s – as having written to FIA member clubs.
“In this letter I would like to explain my commitment to strengthening the independence and effectiveness of the FIA in close co-operation with the entire membership. I have been very fortunate in my career to have enjoyed considerable success in motorsport and benefit from the hard work of previous leaders of the FIA in creating a global platform on which to compete.