Jean Todt has called for an end to 'personal attacks and false allegations' as his duel for the FIA Presidency with Ari Vatanen reaches fever pitch just nine days away from the pivotal vote – and revealed his confidence that the 'professionalism' of his camp will ultimately prevail.
The battle for the most powerful and influential post in international motor racing has been persistently dogged by bad blood and ill-feeling, with 1981 World Rally Champion Vatanen arguing that whilst his party would represent a transparent clean slate away from all the scandal and controversy that has bedevilled the governing body under its outgoing incumbent Max Mosley, the election of Todt would merely guarantee a continuation of the unpopular establishment.
Having expressed his public backing for Todt, however – in company with F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and a number of other high-profile figures within the sport – Mosley went on to launch an extraordinarily stinging attack on Vatanen, warning him in a letter that he would 'lose and lose badly' for having chosen to 'denigrate the FIA and those currently in office rather than run a constructive and civilised campaign', and threatening any member clubs that pledge their allegiance to the Finn with marginalisation under Todt's rule should the Frenchman get in [see separate story – click here
Now, Todt himself has waded into the row, by way of a last-ditch assault on his fellow candidate in which he contends that the former MEP has focussed too much of his effort on destabilising political mud-slinging to the detriment of his attention to core policy matters.
“We would appeal to all FIA member clubs to concentrate on the real issues,” the contentious former Ferrari team principal wrote in a letter to them, “and we hope that the personal attacks and false allegations will stop. We will stick to our constructive and positive stance, we place the interest of the FIA at the core of everything we do and we are grateful for the strong endorsements we have received so far.
“We are confident that a majority of FIA clubs will recognise that our management skills and great professionalism provide the best option to meet the difficult challenges mobility and motorsport face in the future.”
Vatanen has garnered a significant degree of support in the Middle East and Africa for having spoken out about the 'disproportionate' decisions made by the governing body of late, and the succession of dubious 'question marks' posed by Mosley's 16-year regime.
The election for the next President of the FIA is due to take place in Paris on 23 October.