The battle lines were drawn over the weekend in the forthcoming FIA presidential election, when incumbent Jean Todt confirmed that he will stand for re-election.
Last week the FIA Foundation’s David Ward, a former Labour Party adviser, launched his manifesto with a 20 point plan for reform of the federation. Ward is a long time ally of former FIA president Max Mosley, which gives this election a particular piquancy.
Ward is keen to see the role of president – an unpaid position – going to the president of a national federation, while the job of running things day to day would fall to an appointed CEO, who would be remunerated for his work. Ward hoped that a national president would stand, whom he could support. But in the absence of one, he is standing himself.
The election will be held in Paris on December 6th. It will be decided by the FIA General Assembly, comprising 183 voting members.
Interestingly, this weekend in Monza the leading team principals gave Todt their endorsement, with Christian Horner (Red Bull), Ross Brawn (Mercedes), Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren) and Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari) all saying that continuity with Todt would be the best outcome.
“He has not used this sport for his own ego, which I think is very tempting,” said Whitmarsh. “I won’t go back into the past but I’ve seen and survived so far three presidents – only just, one of them – but I think Jean has acted in the interests of motorsport. I think for some people there hasn’t been enough commotion, action, controversy around him.
“Those are good in some people’s minds but I think for those of us that participate in the sport, having some consistency, someone who takes decisions that are in the interests of the sport quietly and efficiently is very beneficial. As you say, we don’t influence the outcome but I think Jean has done a good job so far and we’ll see if he’s successful at continuing to be the President.”
But the election will not be fought out in the F1 paddock – although its outcome will have a huge bearing on F1 – nor will it be fought out in the media. It will be among the national federations and clubs from countries around the world. There are powerful block votes, like the Middle East, which could be very important this time, and the Caribbean.
In the last election, Mosley and his team, as well as Mosley’s long time ally Bernie Ecclestone, backed Todt when he ran against former rally champion Ari Vatanen.
But the signs are that now this group is opposing Todt and there will be some fascinating messaging and positioning over the coming three months.
This began today when Ward sent a letter to Damien Clermont, chief administrative office at the FIA entitled “FIA neutrality request letter” asking for the opportunity to have his campaign messages linked to the FIA website, requesting fair treatment and calling for checks and balances that the FIA machine will operate impartially during the election process,
“I would like clarification that this duty of neutrality will apply not just to the employees among the FIA Administration but also to all external consultants and lawyers currently being paid by the FIA,” writes Ward. “It is of course, of the utmost importance that no FIA resources are used in a biased manner in favour of any particular candidate.”
He signs off the letter, “I would also like clarification on the supervision of the election process. What body will take responsibility to monitor the implementation of the Guidelines during the election period?”
This is how the process works from here:
QUICK GUIDE TO THE 2013 FIA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
The candidate must first get backing from a number of national federations and mobility clubs. Then he has to submit a list of 17 candidates for key roles. This is where it gets interesting because senior influential figures within the FIA have to pick whose side they are on. At this point we will get a good idea of who is looking strong.
This process begins in October and concludes on 15 November.
There are 183 members with voting rights, whose vote will be counted at the FIA General Assembly in Paris on December 6th.
Absolute majority is required (at least half, plus one, of the votes)