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Todt attacks Vatanen’s electioneering dirty tricks
Todt attacks Vatanen’s electioneering dirty tricks
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Oct 2009   |  6:26 pm GMT  |  54 comments

FIA presidential hopeful Jean Todt has sent out a statement to the membership of the FIA clubs today underlining his policy ideas and attacking his rival Ari Vatanen for using dirty tricks and personal attacks in his campaign.

Todt: Accuses Vatanen of negativity

Todt: Accuses Vatanen of negativity

With the election now just over a week away, the tone and meaning of Todt’s message is interesting. His point is that he has sought all along to conduct a dignified campaign, whereas he feels Vatanen has been very negative about the FIA, what it stands for today and has gone around belittling what it has achieved in order to stand out as a candidate of change. Although there is a certain irony in issuing a statement criticising a rival for being critical, by putting that out there for the voting members to reflect upon, Todt’s asking them to take pride in their own achievements, while acknowledging that there are changes to be made.

Early on in the campaign, Vatanen accused Todt of the inappropriate use of private jets and funding for travel to campaign events and was critical of his partner Michelle Yeoh’s role. More recently he has spoken of how situations like McLaren’s $100 million fine or the 100 year deal between the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone are ‘not normal’ and proof that the FIA has gone wrong and needs change.

Todt is directly appealing to voters who have not sided with him, to do so now, suggesting that Vatanen is the devisive figure here, “there is more that unites us, than divides the clubs of the FIA, ” he writes. His point is that the people who will be voting have in many cases been active themselves within the FIA for many years and should be proud of what they and the FIA have achieved.

Many people took the episode last week when Todt’s main sponsor Max Mosley wrote to Prince Feisal of Jordan, urging him not to back Vatanen because he was a divisive figure who was going to ‘lose and lose badly’, as a sign of desperation in the Todt camp that the election was getting away from them.

Todt is very much the continuity candidate, backed by the establishment of Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone, whereas Vatanen promises a root and branch change of culture within the FIA, particularly at the high profile end of it’s activity, which is the governance of Formula 1. Todt also accuses Vatanen of being long on talk, but short on policy.

The election is a secret ballot and although both sides are claiming widespread support from regions all over the world, it is very hard to gauge who has his nose in front at this stage. But if Todt had all the votes he needs, would he be appealing to members to vote for him?

Todt’s message today confidently claims, “a large majority of clubs in our favour in Africa, Asia, Latin America, in Europe and in the Middle East,” which are the key voting areas.

He then goes on to say that while he has conducted himself in a manner befitting a presidential candidate, Vatanen has indulged in ‘”false allegations”, “personal attacks” and “negative campaigning”.

“Early in the campaign we expressed the hope it would remain dignified and focused on the real issues,” he says. “We have acted accordingly, but unfortunately, false allegations have been made against us by other parties. We regret this and will not be part of a process that can only reflect badly on our activities, our sport and the mobility world in general.

“This election should be about taking the FIA forward and improving its effectiveness. We will work hard to improve the democracy of the FIA, by guaranteeing that its regions are governed transparently and that the rights of clubs both large and small are respected. Our policy agenda includes:

for the sport:
– an independent disciplinary panel
– championship commissioners

for mobility:
– a stronger and more representative regional structure…

“We have tried to understand our opposition candidate’s suggestions for the FIA, but couldn’t find any detailed policy. In our campaign we have emphasised teamwork and the need for the mobility and motor sport pillars to work together.

“In contrast, the negative tone of our opponent’s campaign risks undermining the unity of the FIA. Our team recognises that there is far more that unites than divides the clubs of the FIA.

“So, in conclusion, and because our organisation is at a very important crossroad, we would appeal to all FIA member clubs to concentrate on the real issues, and we hope that the personal attacks and false allegations will stop.”

The election in on 23 October and the new president will take over with immediate effect.

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Hmmmmmm, I think we should all just vote James for next president!

P.S When are those at the beeb going to give you a call to join Brundle again???


“dirty tricks and personal attacks”!!!!

Dear Mr Todt, please rearrange these words into a well known phrase or saying:

kettle calling the pot that’s black the


Now Schumi has written to everyone apparently telling them how Todt wants to make changes.Previous partners in crime supporting each other! No thanks!

This about seals it for me. Vote Ari!


As a native Finn, I find it a bit to accept such a desperate attack from Mr Todt. Ari V know his way in any company and has a strong record as a member of the EU parliment, not only as a former racer. He would be a great leader of this Old Men’s Club and the only one able to re-shuffle the whole operation something like 2010-ish.


To quote ‘More recently he has spoken of how situations like McLaren’s $100 million fine or the 100 year deal between the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone are ‘not normal’ and proof that the FIA has gone wrong and needs change’

Enough said really but unfortunately Ari doesn’t stand much chance given the potential to rock the boat of the Formula 1 gravy train


Hi James, congratulations on your new job as an ‘FIA employee!’ A bit off topic, it would be great if you could give your views on Barrichello’s possible switch to Williams. If he’s able to stay at Brawn wouldn’t he be better there?


I think Williams is a good option. It depends a bit on the engine, which looks like being the Cosworth next year, possibly as part of some larger deal. But Williams have a really good engineering department now and they have consistently brought new parts to the car this year which have improved it. Next year there is a limit on developments, so it’s crucial to get a good car at the outset. I imagine that Brawn were keen to take a German driver like Rosberg as part of the connection with Mercedes buying into the team.


I can’t imagine Brawn were ‘keen’ James – surely more a case of Realpolitik from Ross.

I don’t suppose Rubens’s comments earlier on in the season helped his case much.

Unless Cosworth are hiding their light under a bushel (or you know something we don’t James) Williams is surely an also-ran next year?


Haha, I don’t know if I read one pro Todt comment here.

It’s really pathetic how he slanders Ari in this article where he callas for “clean” campaign.

Didn’t like Todt before, and I like him even less now that he teamed up with Mosley. Old FIA must end here.

And YES, McLaren fine and 100 years lease are both ridiculous and shows just how much we need change.


I believe we only see the tip of the iceberg as far as FIA politics goes. 90% is being carried out under the waterline.

For an apparently unpaid job there seems to be a lot of jostling to cling on to the position (ie Moseley after the NOW scandal) or to obtain the position.

My question to you James is what benefits are accruing to these guys? surely not just the feel good factor of administering the sport.

all the best Dave


Curious to know your preferred winner of this election James.


Don’t forget he cheated us all not only during the schumacher years, but also during the peugeot years. Choosing the winner by the flip of a coin.

He should receive a penalty from all the fans, not to be appointed president of the sport we used to love.


If you look at it coldly, the foregone conclusion of the FIA election may not be as foregone as we thought, Mad Max and the vile Toad are actually looking rattled.

We need Ari, F1 needs Ari, let us all hope the best man wins, Ari !


Isn’t really the problem that it is a choice of two unsuitable candidates: Todt who may be a master administrator but has serious questions about whether is an appropriate person; then we have Vatanen whose heart appears to be in the right place, but has not got the CV to back up the role.

Vatanen can fix his problems by having the appropriate administrative team around him. Todt can’t really change who he is.

Vote Todt and you have voted for another Mosley who will wheel and deal to retain his position even to the detriment of the sport; I think if Vatanen was found wanting, he would walk.


The phrase “dirty tricks” should be in quotation marks in the title of this entry; or the title could be rephrased as “Todt accuses Vatanen of electioneering dirty tricks” (if Todt did not use the words “dirty tricks” anywhere in his letter, and you wish to reserve quotation marks for direct quotation rather than scare quotes).

As it stands, the title suggests that dirty tricks on Vatanen’s part are a matter of accepted fact, not a matter of allegation.


Is Todt aware of the irony of criticisng someone forbeing personal?

This seems an odd tactic for someone who, given the biased voting procedure, is all but guaranteed the position because of the support of the incumbent. I would have bet on Todt walking it.

Mosley got in despite Balestra being utterly confident of 80% support for him. The voting rules have changed fundamentally since – one wonders why – and such an outcome is all but impossible. However, the so-called vote of confidence for Mosley wturned, if the chap himself is to be beleived, on the harvesting of support by one man. One man from a country that supposedly supports Ari.

I’d still put my money on Todt but not quite so much.

Todt has had it all: FIA support, his missus flying all over the place, prime billing every time. It is his to lose. One wonders how much harm the threat, and not merely implied but express, that those who support Ari were running a great risk, must have done considerable harm to Todt’s campaign.

Many people believe that Mosley will want to be the power behind the throne: Hillary to Todt’s Bill. That, I would suggest, is Todt’s highest hurdle. I would have suggested that the best tactic in such an elections as this would be to generate fear of your opponent. Still, what do I know.

The election would appear to have weakened the FIA and the post of president somewhat. The unity (what unity?) of the FIA has been undermined by Mosley. There have been two threats from FOTA to take F1, the only cash cow for the FIA, away. A Todt/Mosley ticket is not going to make this less likely.

Vote Todt for penury?


Todt’s best policy would surely be to keep quiet. He is the favourite in any case, but his (and Max’s) actions are pathetic really. No class whatsoever. And to think this man may be the FIA president soon…


This is getting pretty interesting now. I’ve been all over the place with this election and I can’t make my mind up… until recently at least.

When Vatanen announced his intention to run I was delighted especially as a rally fan since I figured that discipline would no longer be neglected. But, I was pretty disappointed when Vatanen was pretty much just ripping off Obama and I just viewed his whole “change” campaign to be incredibly cheesy/corny.

Then Todt showed up and I admit that his initial policies, the way he presented himself, and his plans for the future had me in. Then Mosley endorsed him. Then Mosley’s letter was “leaked”.

I sincerely hope Vatanen wins and I sincerely hope he really is up to the job and will be a competent President. Can’t help but feel that if Todt loses it’ll be entirely because of Mosley. How stupid is this guy? I never really wanted to accuse a guy who managed to rise up the ranks and hold on to the job for so long ‘stupid’ but, wow, come on. How else would you describe his behaviour and his intimidation tactics?


The one thing you might struggle to describe Max as, is stupid.

Francois Pretorius

This really is shaping upto be an interesting vote. I attended one of Ari Vatanen’s press briefings on Friday last and there was most definately no slating of Jean Todt. As a matter of fact he (Vatanen) pertinently avoided any personal comments and refused to do so when asked. Furthermore there was more discussion around mobility than sporting, with comments on F1 kept to an absolute minimum.

It was an impressive discussion by Vatanen.


If Todt’s the continuity candidate then lets all hope for Vatanens victory as I for one am tired of the current status.The list of anomalous decisions we’ve witnessed from the current FIA establishment is endless and this has hurt F1’s stock globally,look no further than the empty grandstands for proof if needed.Time to acknowledge who actually provides the show which Ari has acknowledged.The current tail wagging the dog scenario must end.


Now that tastes of real Machiavellian spirit – atacking the other candidate personally by accusing him of personal attacks. Mosley and Todt doing it the dirty way while loudly accusing their opponent of dirty tricks.

And there is not even a way for Vatanen to defend himself without looking silly.


The only way to settle this is a best-of-3 rallycross event. Winner gets to be FIA president.


Does Todt get to navigate as per his original career? He might pick Loeb…


Todt will find a way to win. Moesley will make a new rule in a heartbeat. Loeb doing it for him instead, or something like that.
[mod] They call it whatever it takes.


Mosley’s support of Todt should be all anyone with a brain

needs to know to know that a vote against Todt is the wise


Vatanen is a driver of the first order. He may not be a “manager”, but I believe that many of us have had our fill of

the managerial type anyway, because we can see where they have led us, in terms of the mess the world’s financial markets and the geopolitical mess which remains as bad as ever. Managers don’t make the world a better place.

Bring on CHANGE.

Bring on Ari !!!!


Well, firstly I admit that I don’t know the full details of the ideas on each candidate.

Secondly, that’s also true that Vatanen’s comments have been dirty and stupid.

Having said that, it’s also true that there are rotten stuff happening in F1, and that the Supremes behind it, only have similarities in conservatism of rules and power, to the ancient Catholic Church.

How can F1 be so technologically advanced, but at the same time have such stone age bureaucracy?


Wait – Diana Ross is calling the shots?!?!?


“But if Todt had all the votes he needs, would he be appealing to members to vote for him?”

Of course he would. Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election by seven percent and 190 electoral votes but he didn’t stop campaigning two weeks before the election just because polls showed a big lead. Todt would be crazy not to campaign until the very end.


James – I can’t actually recall any personal attacks from Vantanen to Todt – have I missed something? If not, doesn’t Todt’s statement then sound itself like unwarranted negative campaigning on his part? And indeed given that Todt is the continuity candidate, surely Vantanen wouldn’t be doing his job as an alternative candidate if he wasn’t criticising Todt? It all sounds like sour grapes from Todt and as though he’s manipulating the media to get people on his side.

I have also wondered if you are truly impartial in your reporting given that you are now an FIA employee (and doing a good job I may add). I haven’t seen any pro-Vantanen articles on your site and at least three pro-Todt articles. I hope I have this wrong, can you confirm?


Yeah, not that he needs it, but I feel I must stick up for James here.

1) As he says, he is not an FiA employee

2) I think his articles are the model of impatiality, except on those occasions where expressing an opinion is valid

3) This is a blog, and as such there would be nothing wrong with James favouring one candidate or the other if he wanted to

4) I wouldn’t exactly call this article pro-Todt…


I’m not an FIA employee! If you are referering to the unilateral TV interviews, these have nothing to do with the FIA


Yes but with all due respect there is an underlying feeling that many F1 journos within the paddock are unwilling to criticise the FIA and Mosley because of a ‘climate of fear’ (not unfounded). It’s easy for me to say such things as a relatively anynomous online lurker but for those making a living out of the sport it must be demoralising.


Read between the lines and what Todt really appears to be saying is “don’t let this outsider break up the Good Ol’ Boys Club we have going here”.

He sounds like a villain from a Scooby Doo cartoon: “If it wasn’t for you meddling kids!!….”

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