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Vatanen goes on the offensive in final push for FIA presidency
Vatanen goes on the offensive in final push for FIA presidency
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Oct 2009   |  5:45 pm GMT  |  32 comments

Following on from Jean Todt’s letter yesterday criticising the negative campaigning of his rival Ari Vatanen, the Finn has done an interview in today’s Gazzetta dello sport in which he calls for a “complete clean up” of the FIA.

Vatanen claims to have over half the votes

Vatanen claims to have over half the votes

Vatanen claims that 70% of the mobility clubs and ‘around half’ of the sporting clubs are on his side. “Me and my team believe that we have more than half of the votes. We are giving people hope and they are grasping it” he says.

“The majority of clubs feel the need for a new FIA, more democratic, which takes care of everyone’s problems. Todt is tied to people who’ve been in power for many years like Mosley and Ecclestone, they don’t represent the future. I’m the only one who represents change.

“The FIA president should serve everyone, not just the people who have vested interests. This is what people are calling for and that’s what they’ll get if they elect me. Todt has the support of Ecclestone: but don’t you think Bernie has personal interests in the business of F1?

Asked about how he views the aftermath of the Renault crash scandal, Vatanen says, “Sport should be wholesome and today it is not. It needs an organ of justice which is separate and neutral. How is it possible that this famous Mr X, who contributed to the conviction (of Flavio Briatore) won out in the end? And why, if Charlie Whiting (FIA race director) had received information on what happened in Singapore, didn’t he investigate it? the result of the world championship could have been different.”

Meanwhile Michael Schumacher has written a letter to all the car clubs urging them to vote for Todt, his former boss at Ferrari. He talks up Todt’s ability as a leader and a team builder. But there are some odd passages in here which hint that there have been a few bumps in the road in this campaign.

“I know that there are some people who say that Jean’s presidency would be a continuation of Max’s leadership. I can only tell these people that they do not know Jean, ” he writes.

He also criticises some of the clubs who have clearly not given Todt house room, ” I have to say I was astonished and disappointed by the way some of the big clubs have acted during this election period: it appears they have made up their minds before even reading Jean’s policy proposals or meeting him…This is not my idea of transparency or professionalism.”

The election is in 10 days time.

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what’s the feeling in the paddock on who people would like to see succeed Max. We know who Patrick Head’s not for…


We can dream that Vatanen can win but he really won’t and we all know that, Max Mosley is just too good a politician. In fact I think he is one of the best political minds I have ever seen.

The vote is weighted so that Vatanen can’t win, he would need a Western whitewash to have a chance but it simply won’t happen unfortunately.


I’m not sure with which meaning you use the term political. If you mean in the manner in which he gained and has kept himself in power then I would suggest political lacks precision.

From the reports which were current immediately after the initial vote in 91, Ecclestone was largely credited with getting him voted into office.

Max, bless him, has control of the rules. It doesn’t take a great deal of political cunning for such a person to remain in power.

As for the exercise of his authority, which is another meaning of politics, I would suggest that a review of the current state of the WRC, WTC and WSC would tend to negate the word ‘best’ in relation to his performance. When one compares the WRC as it is now with how it was when he took over, there is another word that springs to mind: disasterous.

Mosley, for all his use of the word democracy, is hardly remains in position through the inspired used of political nous. The voting system is heavily weighted in favour of the incumbent – the change being instigated by MRM – so the only way one could oust him would be in response to a particular incident, such as actions on his behalf that bring the sport into disrepute. But even then, with the system of voting the weight of which the FIA struggles under, Mosley, whilst not getting the overwhelming majority normally required of a vote of confidence, did succeed in obtaining a majority of the few voting members. This despite the criticisms of him from the major clubs around the world.

One chap boasted after the vote that he had had control over a third of the vote.

Whilst Mosely has been touted as having this razor sharp brain, his performance outside the protected walls of the FIA presidency has not been especially convincing. The way, according to Carman QC, the Verstappen fire was dealt with, the launch control, the traction control, the use of confidential McLaren data in the Renault team, the farce of the Stepneygate enquiry, the Indy fiasco and so many more would tend in my mind at least, to indicate that he is no more a successful president of the FIA than he’s been a success at anything else he has tried in his life.

As Bernie’s posh front man he was superb. But once the strings were cut it all fell apart.

Mosley’s clever use of his authority, the exercise of his political power in other words, has given us processional racing, the desert of the Ferrari dominated years, the escalation in costs, the exit of manufacturers, the biggest threats to the sport’s very existance and, under his control, scandal after scandal after scandal.

He touts the improvement in safety under his control but even that is challengeable. I don’t want to open old wounds but I would suggest that Ratzengerger’s and Senna’s deaths were not unavoidable.

I would assume Mosley has a lot of charm. He certainly seems to get the journos on his side. But in coming to any conclusion as to his ability as president – a political postion – then one must examine his performance. What has he done with F1, WRC, WTC and WSC? F1 is in the worst state it has been in years.

The ACO is a bunch of amateurs and infighting is the norm yet Le Mans manages to grab the public’s attention. So can it be that hard?

Mind you, I’m with your second para 100%. But even here I’d suggest there is a weakness. Ari knows politics for real. I would suggest that his best option will be to challenge the result through the courts. There might well be a lot of mileage with that tactic.


I don’t in the least want to comment on his record, only the ability of Team Bernie (with Mosley as President) to consistently bring in more power and persuade more and more people to let them do what they want. In this respect and his longevity in his position he is masterful. Compare him to real politicians and he stands the test of time.


james can you put any more light on the story that upon asking for transparency in voting, max mosely ushered vatenen out of his office – reports say a meeting between the two lasted about 3 minutes…


I heard that too. Vatanen has hired a lawyer who is expert in electoral processes, apparently.


Haha, didn’t know that one. That speaks volumes. 🙂


With satisfying irony; Moseley’s 100% endorsement of Todt is the only thing that is leaving the result of this election in question. If Todt had half a brain he’d do his best to put some fresh air between himself and the current Junta this week. Even if he did so with his fingers crossed behind his back. Moseley’s unequivocal support is like an anchor around his neck. Todt has more charisma than Vatanen, and no doubt he’s a talented chap – I think he’d walk it if only everyone didn’t look at him and see Moseley MkII.


What worries me, James, is who counts the votes, and in the presence of whom? (They’re not rhetorical questions, I really don’t know.) Are there going to be any independent observers?


Yes there is a huissier de justice, a French legal observer


I kinda have doubts that one man will be enough. One can be persuaded and bribed. If there are more of them they would be reluctant to mess up with anything because they don’t know how much the other one knows. This “huissier de justice, a French legal observer” just might be someone whom Mosley made sure is there.


Thanks for the info. 🙂 Let’s hope he can do the job properly.


Few, myself included, thought Obama had a chance of

winning. Yet he won. I’ve not once been unhappy that my prognostications for Obama’s success were wrong.

What I am trying to say is, don’t assume Vatanen has no chance, even if things don’t look certain at this juncture.

There are some influential people, some of whom have knighthoods, who are more than a bit weary of the current power structure in the world of motorsport. You can believe that talks have occurred in very high places. No one who conducted himself with honor in motorsport wants to see the current state of affairs persist.


Can Vatanen beat the old Mafia? Clearly they will not go without one hell of a fight.

While we recognise Max, Bernie and their acolyte JT for what they are, an old Mafia, it’s difficult to deny that they have to a large extent shaped F1 into the superb spectacle it is today. We have all complained over the years about the dictatorial way they’ve conducted business, but I wonder how F1 would have evolved, if at all, without this autocratic junta in charge.

As we haven’t had the usual polls conducted, it’s hard to gauge the support for Vatanen. For many I imagine Todt will be the continuity candidate at a time of change.


I’m sorry but I really disagree with the notion that F1 has evolved into a superb spectacle. The on track racing is frequently dismal at best. 90% of what is interesting about F1 these days is the scandal and politicing. It is literally a glorified soap opera. The powers that be in F1 have made themselves fabulously rich in the process of duping the general public into paying massively for a very poor show. Without these guiding lights maybe F1 would have become more the spectacle that present day motorcycle racing is. Frequently nail biting to the last corner and beyond with genuine characters occupying the star roles. No wonder Mark Webber has become so disillusioned about F1 and such a big MotoGP fan. Someday I hope – and fully expect – to see him running a motorcycle team when he exits Bernie’s circus.

Back on topic I am delighted to see Vatanen’s rise and really hope he has a genuine shot at winning. Regrettably I don’t think it will be allowed to happen.


Having read the posts on this site and others there is an overwhelming sense that Vatanen is the far better candidate. Yet at the same time there is an almost overwhelming belief that he has little chance of success against the FIA establishment might who are promoting Todt’s campaign.

Is the thinking in the various Federations and clubs so out of touch with what so many of the grassroots fans are thinking? It’s a struggle to find much in the way of positive comment in favour of Todt and yet we overwhelmingly appear to believe he will be ushered in.

Can the readers of this blog and similar really be so disconnected from the views of those with the power to elect the new FIA president? Why?


Money talks. The FiA is not organised in such a way as to give power to the little people. It’s all back room dealings and hushed up chats between privileged folk – look at the Renault scandal. Nothing open and democratic about that, we have it from the mouth of one of the members of the Council: the decision was agreed ahead of time.


Schumi should be concentrating on getting the neck sorted for a comeback and not sticking it on the line!!!!:)


Is there a chance that Ari will get through? I still can’t see it. But the evidence is mounting that Todt might.

The last few announcements from the Mosley/Todt/FIA camp have been less than, shall we say, presidential. And to wheel out Schumacher at this stage seems to border on desperation. The elder statesman role might well have suited Senna but Schuey, with the baggage he carries, is not the one I would have picked.

But then I look back to the ousting of Balestra and can’t help wondering. He was guaranteed an overwhelming victory.

If I remember Annie Hall correctly, this did not originate from the Marx Brothers, but I can’t help paraphrasing Groucho: would you want someone running the FIA who managed to get voted in?

The so-called vote of confidence was one instance, as was the previous vote, all the way back to 1991. Both show that voting is overhyped as a method of getting the right people into posts.

After Todt’s last retort a friend suggested that six of us each put a lump sum in the pot and then say who we think will win the election. A sort of tote. A good idea that was doomed as no one bet on Ari. That’s no takerss at 5:1 odds if my mental arithmatic is still functioning. I was tempted but not for long.

I can’t see Ari getting in.


mmm please do not quote me on the numbers but when Max survived his spank vote was it not very weighted away from Europe and NA and SA? I recall that the biggest FIA member clubs like the US and really every western country voted against but he had support from some very suspect places. Not meaning any disrespect here but yah it did stink and this election will too. [mod]


The Middle East region was important in the vote of confidence last year.



Is this importance anything to do with the chap who said that he had organised a bit over a third of the middle-eastern votes for the so-called vote of confidence? Vital is the word I would have chosen.

And if Todt can wheel out Scumacher, why doesn’t Ari quote those who have been in the sport longer than the German and with more success. I seem to remember Patrick Head saying:

“We have been to many meetings at which [Todt] has been present representing the interests of Ferrari 100 per cent. He is confrontational, argumentative, and not impartial, everything that the president of the FIA should not be.”

The only thing I’d disagree with is ‘everything’. There’s a lot more Todt is that is not presidential.


The question for me is: why a Ferrari employee (Schuamcher) is directly involved in Todt campaign?

None seems to pay attention to that!


…I bet you thought that the F in FIA stood for Federation?


Precisely Becken! And how exactly how does Schumacher know what the clubs are doing and thinking. If it stinks like fish it usually is fish.

Anyone straight out who has a vote should know the correct way to go.


its sad to see Schumi getting involved like this. He should run for president rather than write letters supporting todt

Lets hope for a clearer and better FIA and Formula One. Go Vatanen!


it needs no sherlock nor House M.D. to see that Alan Premane is Witness X.

after listening to the tapes of the FIA hearing Permanes testimony was seen as the nail in Briatore’s coffin, but he claimed that:

1) it was Piquet’s idea and

2) Piquet brought it up on the Saturday of the race.

so does Symonds. (who gives up 5 years of his life as a kind of voucher for his statement.)

and, oddly enough Jean “let Michael pass for the championship” Todt is just beeing what you would call party-political. so my vote would be with vatanen.


70% of the votes? methinks he underestimates max’s control of the FIA. they don’t want to rock the boat or upset the nice boys club that they have going. i can’t see ari winning, much as i want him to. ah well, it was nice to hope, and at least he brought a few things into the open and challenged max – something that not a lot of people would have the guts to do.


The builderberger lookalike, faction must be plotting it’s socks off now to find a major way of stopping Ari. Should we expect an Ari scandal soon?

Schumacher’s promotion of Todt is a parallel to Berlusconi’s hailing of Blair for EU president.


So now the word of a confirmed multiple Formula One cheat (Jerez and Monaco, at the very least) is supposed to be a reason to vote for Todt?

Sounds like just another confirmation that all the wrong people (the dark side, if you will) want us to vote for Todt, and that says everything I need to know…


May i also add illegal launch control software, lap 35 Australian GP in 1994


You may, and I wouldn’t be surprised. I haven’t personally seen evidence of Schumacher’s culpability in that case, hence why I didn’t mention it. The other instances though – well, he admitted one himself, and my eyeballs saw indisputable evidence of his causing the other. 😉

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