Ari Vatanen has made a last call to motoring associations ahead of the election that will pit him against former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt for the prestigious honour of acceding to the most powerful and influential post in international motor racing – by arguing that 'the world does not revolve around the FIA'.
On Friday, either Vatanen or Todt will be voted in by member clubs to replace Max Mosley at the head of the sport's governing body, and the election campaign is one that has been dogged by persistent claims and counter-claims right from the start, with the outgoing president even warning the 1981 World Rally Champion 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'.
Having repeatedly underlined his manifesto for change, Vatanen contends that victory for his camp would represent the start of a 'mini-revolution' within F1 for an organisation that has lost its way – something akin to Jenson Button and Brawn GP's miraculous phoenix-from-the-flames like world championship triumph in 2009.
“You could call it a mini-revolution,” the Finn – a former MEP – opined in an interview with The Associated Press
, “back to the basics. The universal fundamentals [need to] be respected again. We must put our house into order...my role is to offer an alternative to the way things are done.
“[Brawn GP were] underdogs at the beginning of year, and they became champions. This phenomenon is now happening in the FIA. I have played an open game from the start, with nothing hidden.”
From the beginning of his campaign, Vatanen has indeed espoused the values of transparency, a clean-up and a fresh start much like Barack Obama represents in America – to return the focus to the on-track action and away from the off-track political squabbling, tabloid sex esposés and cheating scandals that have plagued the top flight in recent years.
“The world does not revolve around the FIA,” urged the 57-year-old four-time Dakar Rally winner. “It is a possibility for [the member clubs] to change the direction of the FIA and to return the power back to themselves. Power belongs to the clubs; power does not belong to Paris. Paris has to be a servant of the clubs, not the other way around. This historical opportunity is there for the clubs.”
Todt has the public support of not only Mosley but also F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and a number of other high-profile figures within the sport, whilst Vatanen has been backed by former three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, who has called for a 'fresh face' in the presidential role.