Ari Vatanen has laid out his manifesto for change in Formula 1 should he be elected to the role of FIA President on 23 October – arguing that the sport needs to be 'a place where people meet each other on common ground instead of on a battleground'.
Vatanen will go up against controversial former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt for the honour of being voted into the most influential post in international motor racing – one that has been held for the past 16 years by the outgoing Max Mosley.
The 1981 World Rally Champion – who ironically worked closely with Todt during his rallying heyday at Peugeot over 20 years ago – has insisted that key to the retention of peace in the top flight is a far more harmonious, non-confrontational and democratic relationship between the governing body and its teams. That comes in the wake of the acrimonious and highly damaging political run-ins between Mosley and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) this summer over the Englishman's contentious budget cap initiative, and the subsequent stand-off that threatened for some time to spawn a manufacturer-spearheaded 'breakaway' series and tear F1 quite literally in two.
“F1 is known for battles and crises and sudden changes,” the Finn told ITV-F1's
James Allen, “and it should be known as a place where people meet each other on common ground instead of on a battleground where different parties don't have an equal position. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise what should be done – just normal good governance, fairness, treating people correctly, taking decisions democratically and not just imposing your will because you want to humiliate somebody because you happen to be in a position of power.
“Treat family members on an equal footing, because this is all about passion, but people's passion is not liberated if they feel they are in a family where they are being sidelined and nobody cares for them. F1 can be three times, four times, five times better in 15 years' time if we apply the principle that we are equal members around the table.
“If I was FIA President, it wouldn't give me any pleasure if I managed to humiliate some team leader, because if this team leader goes out of my sport, how is the FIA doing? Not very well at all. My job is to give them a platform, because these actors are actually paying for the acting – I'm not paying for the acting, and I get my revenue from their acting, so my view is to give them such an attractive platform that they stay in the FIA championship.
“How can I give them such an attractive platform? Only if I consult them and work with them, and if they can [get] return on their investment. I don't see anything good in dividing. If the competitors are prospering in our championship then that is in the interest of the FIA. Everything in my life has been about teamwork.”
Vatanen went on to point to recent incidents that have impacted negatively upon the FIA's reputation, from the sporting record $100 million fine meted out to McLaren-Mercedes over the infamous espionage row two years ago to the sale of F1's 100-year commercial rights to Bernie Ecclestone and his partners for $350 million.
“You have a $100 million fine, and then the global rights for 100 years are worth $350 million – both figures are totally disproportionate,” he contended. “That speaks of how the situation in the FIA is not normal at all, and that's why people always have big question marks when they talk about the future of the FIA. It's not normal to have a $100 million dollar fine or to sell global rights for $350 million.”