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FIA loses patience with Vatanen
FIA loses patience with Vatanen
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Oct 2009   |  11:15 pm GMT  |  104 comments

Outgoing FIA president Max Mosley has issued two official press statements today on behalf of the FIA, heavily critical of one of the candidates to replace him, Ari Vatanen.

With the election exactly one week away, Vatanen is being depicted as a divisive an destabilising figure, who doesn’t really know what he’s doing, whereas Jean Todt is being portrayed as the ‘harmony candidate’ as well as the leader with the right qualities and experience.

Mosley: Vatanen hasn't bothered to understand (Photo: Darren Heath)

Mosley: Vatanen hasn't bothered to understand (Photo: Darren Heath)

It is now quite clear that Vatanen feels that next week’s election will not be conducted fairly. The format is a secret ballot and Vatanen has made a big fuss about the scope for electoral fraud. He has launched an action in the French courts to try to enforce certain controls on the election process. He has also made a number of comments in recent weeks about the need to ‘clean up’ the FIA and the way it is run by the current administration.

It’s pretty obvious that both Mosley and Todt are getting angry with him. The first FIA statement, this morning, picked up on the theme put about by Todt, attacking Vatanen’s negative comments about the FIA as it is today.

“The FIA will be calling on all candidates to avoid negative campaigning and prejudicial leaks to the media, ” said the statement. “Candidates should focus on the positive aspects and opportunities of the upcoming election and its effect on motoring and motor sport.”

The FIA also published a letter from Vatanen to Mosley and the response from the president, in which Vatanen expressed concern about the lack of neutrality on the part of many FIA officials. He claims that the breach of neutrality is punishable in French courts.

Mosley replies that Vatanen is mistaken if he thinks that any law has been broken by his officials and attacks Vatanen for his claims at the start of the campaign about Jean Todt using private jets and FIA funds to campaign around the world.

Later today, the FIA issued another statement saying that Vatanen was now challenging the integrity of the FIA, by filing his action,

“Mr Ari Vatanen, one of the candidates for the FIA Presidency, has today served on the FIA an application to the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, asking the Court to impose a number of measures for the FIA election.

“Had Mr Vatanen troubled to examine the procedures in place, he would understand that these in fact already provide more safeguards than those he is asking the Court to impose.

“The FIA is therefore at a loss to explain the purpose of this legal action, if not merely to generate further negative publicity and to attempt to raise doubts about the honesty of FIA staff. This is despite the fact that a large team of FIA personnel has worked continuously over recent months to ensure that the new FIA President is elected in a dignified and democratic way.

“The FIA has retained a public official (a Huissier de Justice) to supervise the electoral process and the count. On 15 October the FIA circulated a note to all voting members outlining in detail the election process to be deployed and the role that the Huissier will play. This is available to download in the governance section of the FIA website.

“This legal action follows a number of allegations made by Mr Vatanen to the media which attempt to call into question the integrity of the FIA’s personnel and the FIA’s election process. However, Mr Vatanen has not taken up an invitation to specify and substantiate his allegations.”

Vatanen really is up against the Town Hall, as the saying goes.

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The FIA has not so much lost patience as lost face it would appear. They have backed down over Ari’s fairness challenge.


Interesting (and not altogether surprising) to see that today’s news has reports of Todt’s representatives essentially offering bribes for votes, and making veiled threats should they not win:


I hope this is ground for further court action, in fact it sounds like criminal charges need to be brought into play and JT should be disqualified from standing!


Before the potential trial you already have the judgement 😉 Any proof of that? Uganda does not stand in my top list of democratic countries either.

… and Ari has just dropped the case he had put forward in the Paris’s TGI… Going to Court and giving up! that tells a lot doesn’t it?

I like JT but I do not care about who will be elected any of them will be better than Mosley (enough with tht brits everywhere: Ecclestone, Mosley 😉 I’m joking…) but I find this violence against Jean Todt unbearable in the end.


It just is unseemly for any organization to be ‘officially’ criticising people who are running for its head office. The FIA itself should not be involved in a partisan manner.


here’s a question – if mosely et al had stayed quiet and not expressed any support of either candidate, would todt be a lot more popular than he appears to be (to the casual observer at least). mosely clearly doesn’t know how he is perceived and the damage he (and by association the FIA) has done by clearly supporting todt. or maybe he does, but doesn’t care, because he is influencing the people that will vote, and doesn’t give a crap about the fans of the sport whose opinion carries absolutely no weight in this election.


Seriously, can somebody tell me how the cheating will be organised? In other words how do you think it can be done?

Because of course it is easy to say “they will cheat” but technically how do you do that?

… knowing that delegates of the 2 candidates will supervise the vote?

Can somebody answer, as I am very interested -and quite an expert on voting procedures- Thank you very much…


They planned to number the ballot envelopes, so each member would be given their very own ‘secret’ ballot with their very own PERSONAL number on it so NO ONE could POSSIBLY know who’s envelope it was OR who they voted for!


They planned? I’m afraid the actual voting procedure (as described on the FIA site) says very clearly “it will not be possible to distinguish the envelopes”.

No, again the only question is: Why is a club going to vote for Ari or Jean? Because the club believes A or J are best for the job or because the club has an incentive to vote for one of them…


That was changed after Vatanen brought it to attention and opened the court case! They DID plan to number the envelopes!


From what I though, a journalist’s job is to report on the facts, not to sway their readers to their personal way of thinking.

Blogs like this encourage you to think for yourself and form your own opinions, not demand the judgements of other people.

Why do you think there is a comments section?


Most of the press are embarrassing quiet because they need FIA passes to work.

That is pretty simple and sad.


I think we need to calm down a bit here. Just because you have one world view and some others like CTP and Rupert agree with it, does not mean that everyone must follow your world view. You try to bully me into supporting your world view, but I choose not to. End of story.

And the bit about journos living in fear of their passes is overplayed by people who have never operated in F1 and don’t know how it works.



I think your blog is fantastic at digging below the surface, giving us a real insight into what goes in Formula 1. Combining your approach of twitter for instant race weekend updates and the blog for less time critical and more in depth reporting is the best of both worlds.

Regarding your coverage of the FIA election, I would have felt far more comfortable reading your articles if you did explicitly present your world view. As it is, I’m left wishing for more context. I’m more than happy reading someone’s views, whether I agree with them or not.

There have been a couple of stories on the election deemed big enough for national newspaper coverage this week, it would be nice to hear your views on them when you get chance (to be fair, the Mail on Sunday is only out today, and the story isn’t as important as race weekend info!).

Anyway, keep up the good work and please don’t take my comments as anything more than well meaning feedback.



Somebody shaking up the succession? If Ari is clueless, then why all the fear? I don’t think there is a whole lot the FIA can portend to be transparent about.

Sounds like a bunch of sacred cows are worried they’re off to the slaughterhouse. Good riddance if they are.


You know, I often think that if it wasn’t for the ITV coverage of F1 from the 1990’s onwards most of us wouldn’t have heard of Max Moseley, and possibly even the FIA.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t be concerned, but will we really notive a difference whoever wins?



probably off topic! Have you got any new information about kimi’s future in this weekend’s gp?



James, I am not sure about the title of your piece here- FIA looses patience with Vatanen… Surely it’s not the FIA’s position to have an opinion on this. Vatanen has called into question the integrity of the voting process for the FIA presidency next week, it would seem rightly so by what has been reported in the news papers this week- and judging by the recent information leaked into the press about FIA officials working on Todt’s campaign- quite frankly who can blame him for raising these concerns.

Clearly Moseley, and his internal FIA team has been bullying eligible voters with threats and ramification for ‘not’ voting for Todt, and FIA officials/ employees have been using FIA time and materials to canvass on Todt’s behalf. Outrageous in it’s own right.

Its time the press, including this site, stood up and said what they think, now is the time to bring Moseley/ Todt’s camp into the lime light for what they are doing. No-one seems to be saying what they think, only what is perceived to be politically correct… But of course, you rely on the FIA for relevant passes and access to F1 races and hence your livelihood, so I can understand your hands are tied.

Pitpass has made a good effort at allowing us to understand the effect Todt as FIA president will have on F1- basically a continuation of what we have already. Planet F1 has made a good effort as well. Grand Prix Racing, and AutoSport have both been embarrassingly quiet on the subject. I wonder why…..

The time to act on this is now. No one wants a continuation of what we have had to endure over the past 12 years. Todt has already been thrown out of Rallying for cheating; what on earth do we want him as FIA president? It was hard enough enduring his term at Ferrari- no matter how successful he may have been, the integrity of which is again, a matter of opinion. Change is needed.

Its obvious to me the cards are stacked against Vatanen, and it’s not because Vatanen cant do the job, it’s because Moseley prefers another candidate.

Is the FIA vote going to be democratically fair next week? Based on how the FIA has been run over Moseley’s term, and what has been going on during this election campaign thus far- very doubtful, in my opinion.

The press needs to ‘step in’ and report what is actually happening, rather than what they think Moseley wants to hear- slanted and watered down reporting.

Its all well and good praising the existing president for achievements made under his term, but frankly, I believe anyone in his position would have achieved this. Look at what the European government has done for Europe over this time.

Mosley should have gone when he was exposed in 2008, Todt shouldn’t be eligible to stand for the FIA presidency- who likes a cheat…

Rupert M- London.


Vey well said Rupert! Could not agree more.


By far the greatest part of his most recent exchange of letters seems to have been missed out here.

Jean and Ari had a meeting with Max earlier in the week, as agreed, to discuss the electoral process and how the vote would be conducted.

Ari, quite rightly, asked Max for an assurance that the ballot would be secret and the election fair. Max kicked him out of the meeting and slammed the door in his face.

That’s why Ari’s gone the legal route. because after that meeting, he’s got absolutely no faith that this election will be run in a fair manner.

And who could blame him?


In other news, fans lose patience with Mosley.

That photo of Mosley positively oozes malevolence. But I bet

he’s fun at parties, as long as he gets to chose the “theme”

of the party …


All this plays into Vatanen’s hands. I can’t quite believe Mosley is both giving him the publicity, and playing up to the ‘Vatanen = Change’ theme.


Seems like Mosely are very afraid indeed for Vatanen to win. Could it be there are too many skeletons hided which would be exposed if Vatanen come into office.


The fact that the FIA is issuing statements similar to the 2nd one indicates the need for major change in my book.


The sad thing about this whole sorry episode is that Max’s legacy is now well and truly tainted. It’s easy to forget that when he became president of FISA in ’91 and the FIA in ’93 he carried with him the popular support of the people against the obviously old-school and corrupt Jean-Marie Ballestre. Over the next few years he did a lot of really great things for the sport and was a breath of fresh air.

Forward to 2009 and it’s 1991 all over again; Max is now seen as the Ballestre figure – the kind of guy you couldn’t trust as far as you could throw him. And I’m very much one of those people myself.

Why does this always seem to happen in politics? The guy did a lot of really great work and oversaw the modernisation of Formula 1. What will he be remembered for? Being dressed up in a concentration camp uniform and fixing this election. Hardly a glorious legacy.


are the FIA (or rather max mosely – we should probably not portray the whole FIA negatively when it’s really just max and his cronies doign most of the dirty work) not putting themselves in a bad light a bit, by reacting so angrily to ari’s suggestion that a number of measures be put in place to ensure a fair and transparent election… it’s almost as if they have something to fear!! 😉

and while max can say he is proper and fair, and the victim of damaging words, whilst ari is the devil in disguise, making entirely false accusations until he is blue in the face, does *anyone* believe him? my belief is that he is totally corrupt – not perhaps unlawful in the strictest sense, but certainly improper and immoral. then again the FIA seem to be a law unto themselves.

max claimed that everything he did, he believed to be the right thing to do. i’m sure someone else close to his family had the same belief too… not saying max is guilty of mass gross atrocities, but there does seem to be a similar sociopathic bent


This is an interesting quote:

“The reason no-one has stood against [guess who] until now… is not that everyone agrees with him… It’s because they fear, rightly or wrongly, that the consequences could be adverse. That’s completely wrong… The idea that the [FIA] is the property of one man, and trying to take the presidency from him is like trying to take his house or his car, is alien to any properly-run club”.

That was Max Mosley talking about former FISA president Jean-Marie Balestre in 1991. The wheel has come full circle.


Well played, sir!


Chant with me everybody!: We want Ari! We want Ari!


I attribute the success of modern day ferrari to Jean Todt. He is the architect of this modern day team.They were no where after the death of Enzo in 1988. He quickly transformed a struggling team into a winning one. although some of the dubious, dirty, cheap tactics might never been forgotten, the man must get some credit for transforming the team. the point I’m trying to make:

1) How can a team, which owes its success in recent time not be supportive of the man who guided them to success?

2) How can a man, who got a platform, in the form of ferrari to demonstrate his managerial skill( I know they were cheap & dirty) no be supportive of his former team?

His ties with Ferrari are too deep & too strong for him to be able to provide transparent governance.

Jean todt is a name everyone associates with 3 things




I’m not sure if people would associate his name with




Hence imho Todt must not be allowed to contest the election, if he does contest I’m damn sure he’ll win, because he’s got the backing of the red Italian mafia & S&M Mosley.

Remember this!! Anyone endorsed by Mad Max has to be mad. Bad company spoils even good people. Max & Todt have been very close to each other since the latter’s retirement from Ferrari. So we don’t know yet as to how much Jean’s been influenced by Mosley. Mosley is like a pandemic.

And finally haven’t we had enough of one “Jean?? Remember Jean-Marie Balestre, the eccentric fella? It was because of this man that we’ve ended up with Max Mosley 🙁 & now Max is returning the favour by vouching for Jean Todt. Jean I tried to finish off the sport, Jean II will make sure he finishes it off!!Too many Jean’s & too many Max’s are bad for the sport. Isn’t it? so imho we do not want any more British or Frenchmen . We need someone who can “FINNISH” the job for us, the fans. So I highly recommend a “FINNISH” gentleman by the name Ari Vatanen who is ofcourse is from finland & is finnish. I’m sure he’ll finnish the unfinnished job at the FIA. 🙂


Mosley and PR really don’t go hand in hand at the moment, do they? Not that he cares. It makes no difference to him what we think.


If Jean Todt doesn’t win, he’ll unfortunately inherit all the “bad” image/publicity from Mosley…


It seems that Mosley has decided that he must have at least one more battle before he retires. How unsurprising. I don’t see what the benefit is for Mosley, unless he has some skeletons hanging around that Todt has promised would stay hidden.

This election will come down to whether the voters actually want to see a totally fresh leadership, or whether they are comfortable with the status quo. I would say this would depend on how much they would benefit from keeping the existing set-up.

For me, a vote for Todt is a vote for selfish self-interest and jobs for the boys. A vote for Vatenen is a vote for clarity, professionalism and a desire to have a governing body worthy of the title.

I think if Vatenen is smart he simply needs to ask the voting members whether they want to make their own choice, or whether they want to be told what to do by teacher and blindly follow their instructions.

Men, or mice?


Please don’t anyone judge me in this, I support Vatanen as much as the next motorsport fan, but I can’t help but listen to what Mosley has got to say.

Recent press has shamed Max with his private life which has made it so easily to forget his history. What I will fail to forget about Mosley is his outstanding intellect and ability to be a leader (as I’ve said recent press has distorted or made irrelevant this truth).

Therefore I can’t help but wonder why he is backing Todt; his strong alliance with Ferrari could only ever be a negative in his election campaign. I will still never be able to trust him after seeing footage of his behaviour during “Spygate”, how he would close doors or finish conversations when he noticed a camera was watching. That is not what you want from your president.

But for Mosley to back Todt, there must be more to it. Post-victory promises? Financial benefits? Or does Max truly believe that he is the man for the job?

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