FIA presidential candidate Jean Todt has claimed that his bid will be focused on the twin pillars of 'commitment and professionalism', pointing out that he will not be influenced either by supporter-in-chief Max Mosley or his former ties to Ferrari.

The Frenchman, who appears set for a head-to-head with erstwhile WRC charge Ari Vatanen for the top job in world motorsport, outlined his ideas and principals in a media Q&A that also revealed the areas which he hopes to prioritise should he be elected.

"Throughout my career, as a competitor, manager, team principal and chief executive, I have enjoyed success in an intensely competitive environment," he said of his reasons for standing as a candidate, "I've worked with incredibly talented and dedicated people, teams and organisations with great passion, pride and commitment. Now working closely with my candidacy team, I want to bring all the experience I have gained throughout my career and apply it for the benefit of the FIA and its membership.

"In the last few weeks, I have found it inspirational working with my team, Nick Craw, Brian Gibbons and Graham Stoker. Together we have developed a policy agenda for the FIA which we all think is exciting and offers a new vision of how the FIA should develop in the years ahead. I'm very hopeful that we will be given the chance to implement what we have proposed. It is quite humbling to think that we could be given the opportunity to help shape the future of the FIA in this way."

Among the concerns levelled at Todt's candidacy, along with the backing of Mosley, is his connection to Ferrari, for a long time seen as having a preferential relationship with the governing body. Since the recent FIA-FOTA 'war', however, that suspicion has lessened and Todt is keen to point out that he would not be leaning on his years of success at Maranello.

"Initially, some people suggested that I would be Ferrari's choice for the presidency, then the media was that told that Ferrari didn't want me, and the Scuderia responded by saying that they were, in fact, neutral," he pointed out, "Of course, I completely agree with them. They should be neutral - as I will be to all the teams if I am elected president.

"This is a question of commitment and professionalism. The success I have enjoyed, with every team that I have ever worked with, has been founded upon professionalism and a total commitment to that team's goals. My approach to the FIA is no different. I would not contemplate running for election as president if I could not focus all my professionalism, energy and commitment upon achieving the goals which are in the best interests of the FIA. Acting as the guardian of the FIA's independence is central to this."

Reacting to the criticism that followed Mosley's endorsement of his bid, Todt insisted that he would not be the outgoing president's puppet, as many of his opponents believe.

"Like everyone in the FIA, Max should be entitled to his opinion," he pointed out, "I'm very honoured by his comments, but Max knows, as I do, that the full membership - and only the full membership - of the FIA will decide who the next president of the FIA will be. Max has made a fantastic contribution during his years as president and, if elected, I will respect his legacy - but I will also bring some crucial changes to the FIA.

"I am more of a manager than a politician, and my defining characteristic is to encourage and ensure teamwork. That is what I have tried to do throughout my career and it has been the reason for the success that I have achieved in a number of motorsport disciplines. The FIA is a highly complex organisation and I think my management experience and skills will offer something new and unique to the FIA's membership."

Asked to reveal exactly what he hoped to change within the current framework of the governing body's work, the former WRC co-driver and team manager outlined a revamp of the way in which the sport was managed.

"We will conduct a detailed consultation with our membership and, once this process of review and consultation has been completed, we will present our recommendations for change to the Worlds Councils and the General Assembly," he explained.

"In our policy agenda, my leadership team has made some important proposals regarding governance in the sport, creating championship commissioners, a new disciplinary body and a review of our system of stewards. Some of these proposals will require amendment to the FIA's statutes and the International Sporting Code. So we must take this opportunity of change in the FIA's rules to review our entire governance system to make sure that our structures are fully representative, for example, of all world regions.

"I would like to give a stronger regional focus to the FIA's work promoting both motorsport and mobility. We can do much more to strengthen the regions and zones that usually deal with the issues that matter most to clubs. I also want to encourage closer co-operation between the mobility and motorsport pillars of the FIA. Many of our clubs are active in both and we can encourage synergies between the two."

The regional issue is one, however, on which, in other areas, Vatanen and Todt could not be further apart. While the Finn's camp has been critical of what it believed was FIA-assisted flying visits to 'minority' regions in a bid to bolster support for his bid - something Todt and the FIA both subsequently denied - and claims that it will revise the voting procedure, Todt believes that the current election procedure should be maintained.

"I don't agree with [Vatanen's] idea at all," he stressed, "It would concentrate power and decision-making in the FIA in the hands of a just a few mobility clubs that have large memberships simply because they happen to exist in countries with large populations. That would be unfair and undemocratic.

"The FIA is the equivalent of the United Nations for global motorsport and mobility. Like the UN, every member of the FIA has the right to vote, irrespective of their size. I am committed to this fundamental principle because it ensures that the democratic rights of all our clubs, big or small, are equally balanced. Quite rightly, an FIA presidential candidate can only be successful if he and his team appeal to a broad range of the FIA membership, large or small, motoring or motorsport."

Asked what he saw as the biggest challenges facing motorsport, and whether the FIA was guilty of focusing too much of its attention on F1, Todt underlined the need to tackle the combined goals of improved safety and sustainability.

"We all know how dangerous motorsport can be," he underlined, "Like millions of F1 fans, I watched Felipe [Massa]'s accident on television at home, [and] it's only human to fear the worst in those situations. The FIA's safety and medical systems worked well and I'm sure that the helmet design developed by the FIA, and the FIA Institute's experts, saved Felipe's life.

"His accident came only days after the tragic incident involving Henry Surtees, [and] I can only echo the comments made by John Surtees after the loss of his son, that we must constantly review our approach to safety, learn from every incident and apply that knowledge systematically to improving standards.

"However, if you take a moment to look beyond the newspaper and television headlines, it's hard not to be impressed by the prodigious non F1-related work championed by the FIA. It encompasses rallying, touring cars, GTs, karting, historics, and so on. It works on mobility issues, acting as the voice of the motorist and supports global public policy campaigns, award winning safety, medical and environmental research, and grass roots grant-making initiatives, education and consumer programmes - with its sister organisations the FIA Foundation and the FIA Institute the achievements are numerous.

"As a trustee of the FIA Foundation, I have been very fortunate to be personally involved in some of this activity, I am also immensely proud of my partner Michelle, who has, for two years, taken a leading role as an ambassador for the 'Make Roads Safe' campaign. In the future, I hope to encourage an even greater involvement from the motorsport community in the work of the FIA, Foundation and Institute, building on the contributions already made by the likes of Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Pedro de la Rosa, Sebastien Loeb and Alex Wurz.

"We also need to do more to encourage the growth of motorsport in the emerging economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The world's car population will more than double in the next few decades and inevitably this will increase interest in the sport. That is why we must also ensure that motorsport is more accessible both for competitors and officials at every level, with clear programmes for training and best practice, clear pathways for competition and improvement.

"Ensuring the environmental relevance and sustainability of motorsport will not only act to safeguard our sport from those who would criticise it but, more significantly, it will allow the sport to become a catalyst for technological change which can have great social relevance worldwide. From an engineering and technical perspective, and from a marketing and promotional perspective, motorsport can pioneer green technologies of immense benefit to the motoring public. We have only just started to do this but, with the understanding and support of all the stakeholders, so much more can be achieved."


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