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Vatanen and Todt square up for FIA battle
Vatanen and Todt square up for FIA battle
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Aug 2009   |  7:31 pm GMT  |  7 comments

Today has seen the publication of Ari Vatanen’s FIA presidential manifesto and also a further document on proposed changes to the FIA statutes from his rival for the role, Jean Todt. Both men talk of teamwork, change and transparency. Vatanen goes one stage further and talks of ‘honesty’.

The pair worked together at Peugeot in the 1980s, most notably in the Paris Dakar rally, where Todt famously flipped a coin to decide which of his two drivers, Vatanen or Jacky Ickx would win the event. Now they are squaring up for a battle and they are starting to get proactive.
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The two men both talk about possible changes to the voting system for electing presidents in the future with regard to the controversial lists system, whereby a candidate has to have a cabinet in order to run for office, “which is believed by some to weight in favour of an incumbent,” according to Todt. It certainly is. Max Mosley told us at the start of the year that he introduced that statute as a kind of early warning device to alert him to any threats to his office. Because any candidate would have to sound out potential cabinet members, the president would soon get to hear about it.

Todt is pressing Vatanen on the subject of how much influence the individual nations’ member clubs should have. He says that Vatanen wants clubs from big nations like Germany and the USA, to have more voting power. Vatanen denies this.

This will clearly be a key battleground in the forthcoming election.

Vatanen signs off his brief manifesto document with an Obama-esque call to arms, “Our cause is noble. Together we can.”

Todt’s document concerns changes to the FIA statutes, but one area I’ve not seen discussed yet is the issue of the financial reward for the job of FIA president. Under Max Mosley the job has offered no salary to the incumbent, it is a voluntary position. Both Vatanen and Todt are both wealthy men, but one wonders whether they will seek recompense for their work, once elected.

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I wonder if the FIA presidency is having the same effect on the candidates as the Papacy has on the selected to be Pope.

The current Pope’s prior reputation was for being a “hard man”, an “enforcer”. But as Pope he has taken on a much different character. They say that becoming Pope changes a man to a different character, that they have to change to do the job properly.

I wonder if this is what is happening to Todt? He has worked one way all his career, but realises that won’t work for the FIA presidency, especially following Max, and is changing, but of course keeping his talent for working well with people.

I know I’m out on a limb with this, but certain jobs do change people, or at least the way they behave.


Do snails have limbs?


Jean Todt’s management of Ferrari was always regarded as slightly shadowy in some quarters, giving rise to endless conspiracy theories, which probably explains the media’s indifference. Ari Vatanen, as a driver, is perhaps perceived as an exciting new broom.

I find the language used by the two men interesting. Vatanen started out on a fairly aggressive reform ticket with more rhetoric than content (well, he has been an MEP for 10 years!), from where he has had to moderate; while Todt is very concilliatory, almost fawning, making his broadly similar objectives seem like the next logical step forward for an already great administration rather than a fresh start. I have to say, Todt appears to be making a far better fist of it – dare I say the difference between a successful real-world achiever and a politician. Ari was a peerless driver, though! View ‘Climb Dance’ on YouTube if you don’t remember.

The question of representation is difficult and there is a balance to be struck. Sure, all countries should be equal in their rights in respect of mobility issues and access to motorsport development but I cannot help but feel greater influence is due to participating (or potentially participating?) countries when it comes to the major FIA world championships. It has occurred to me, rightly or wrongly, that much of Max Mosley’s power comes from courting an uninvolved quorate majority at the expense of those with a hands on involvement but perhaps this could be said, in the right hands, to help establish independence.


I find Vatanen’s talk of bringing ‘honesty’ to the president’s office as laughable as he has conducted his campaign.

Vatanen, after all, was the one who commenced his campaign talking about attacking issues and not personalities. Following up that promise scarely five minutes later was his ill-judged comments about Michelle Yeoh and Todt’s work in Africa.

Todt on the other hand has, despite his reputation, an utterly clean, spotless campaign that comes across vastly more open and honest than Vatanen has managed.

Vatanen has made several promises to reveal details such as his manifesto and cabinet only to demur. Finally he’s delivered on those many previous promises, but in doing so he can’t help himself but talk about ‘honesty’.

In this campaign one candidate has conducted himself honestly. And the sad irony is it isn’t Vatanen.

It also seems to me, that despite Motorsport’s apparent reservations toward Todt, Todt seems to be pursuing a more motorsport friendly agenda compared to Vatanen – who it seems is more aligned with mobility.

The politics and rhetoric don’t seem to match what is being reported in the media though. With Vatanen being apparently championed as the man to fix motorsport.

Anyway I welcome your analysis as always James!


Thanks James. Is there a link available to these documents at all?



The job offers no salary. Is this like the MP’s expenses scandal in the UK, in that despite no salary, there is a rather generous, and not honorously audited expense account.

I’m asking because Max turns up at all sorts of places. It cannot be inexpensive to have that sort of itinerary.


Obviously the expenses are covered and there is a jet.

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