'We must accept that controversy is a part of F1' – that is the audacious declaration of FIA Presidential candidate Ari Vatanen, who has attempted to play down the recent run of very public scandals that have rocked the top flight in arguing that 'there is a tendency for man to push the limits...'
Vatanen will do battle with former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt for the honour of acceding to the most powerful and influential post in international motor racing – replacing longstanding, outgoing incumbent Max Mosley – in Paris on 23 October, but the election campaign has been dogged by a series of sideswipes between the three men, with Mosley having made little secret of which camp will be receiving his support.
However, despite having based his entire manifesto on the need for change and a transparent, honest method of governance a world away from the series of salacious and damaging scandals and incidents of cheating that have dogged F1 under Mosley's reign, the 1981 World Rally Champion has admitted that to some degree, the world's fastest, most glamorous and most global sport will always be tracked by controversy in one form or another, such is the very nature of the beast.
“To a certain extent we must accept that controversy is a part of F1,” Vatanen told BBC Radio Five Live
, reflecting on issues ranging from the 2007 McLaren/Ferrari espionage row to Mosley's infamous News of the World
sex éxposé early last year, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton being caught lying to race stewards in Melbourne back in March and, most recently of course, 'Singapore-gate'. “There is a lot of fame, glamour and money involved, and that tends to bring out both the best and the worst of men.
“Human nature has not changed – that's why in any sport or human activity, we sometimes do things wrong. There is a tendency for man to push the limits, which is why we need very clear governance and clarity – common ground, not a battleground.
“There are a lot of question marks at the moment, with people not being sure how F1 is going to continue. All the stakeholders must sit around at a table and ask ourselves 'how can we make our sport better?' That's a good starting point. Tomorrow has to be better than today.
“When one is passionate about cars, like myself and over 100 million members of the FIA, people simply want the FIA to be run in a normal manner, with democratic principles, openness, justice and accountability. That is all we are asking for, and that is what we are proposing.”