Jean Todt will be opposed in the forthcoming FIA presidential elections by David Ward, who was a key ally of former FIA president Max Mosley.
Ward announced his decision today and has resigned as Secretary General of the FIA Foundation to prepare his campaign.
“After much careful thought I have decided to stand as a candidate in the 2013 FIA Presidential election,” said Ward in a statement. “The election period begins in September and it will be necessary for me to approach FIA members to secure nominations. In these circumstances I think that the correct course of action is to resign.
“Election processes inevitably involve robust and lively debate, and whilst the Foundation is independent and there is no legal requirement for me to resign, I believe that it is in the best interests of the charity that I stand down now.”
Candidates must submit their application together with a list of vice presidents between October 23 and November 13. Ward will already have a good understanding of the support he has from the national federations globally to mount a serious challenge to Todt. The Frenchman has travelled widely during his four years at the helm, visting most outposts of the FIA empire, but Mosley was in the job for almost two decades and retains strong influence, not least in the Middle East which carries a lot of influence.
The prospect of facing such a well backed candidate means that Todt will have to devote significant energy to campaign business in the next couple of months, co-incidentally there is still much to do in terms of F1 related issues like tyre supply, signing a new Concorde Agreement.
Todt has pushed hard on Bernie Ecclestone to get more money and more influence for the FIA. Under Mosely the commercial rights for F1 for 100 years from 2011 were sold for around $360 million in total. Todt has argued that times have changed and the FIA should get a further €20 million a year from Ecclestone’s company. The FIA does not have access to significant funds. Todt has been keen to change that.
At the Hungarian Grand Prix in July Ecclestone and Todt issued a statement saying, “The Formula One Group and the FIA have signed an agreement setting out the framework for implementation of the 2013 Concorde Agreement.
“This agreement will come into force upon approval by the respective governing bodies of the signatory parties in the coming weeks.”
It will be interesting to see whether everything goes on hold now until the elections and, should Ward win, it will be interesting to see whether he pursues a similar agenda to Todt with regard to F1’s commercial rights.
It is also possible that the move may be a powerplay to get Todt to back down on some key negotiating points, with Ward able to withdraw his candidacy at any time between now and the election.
Ward is 56 years old and comes from a political background. He was policy adviser to the one time leader of the UK Labour party John Smith and has played roles in many of the FIA’s mobility initiatives including the current Decade of Action for Road Safety programme in conjunction with the UN.
Further analysis of this unfolding situation will follow.