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Todt attacks Vatanen's electioneering dirty tricks

Todt attacks Vatanen's electioneering dirty tricks
Oct 13, 2009, 6:26 PM

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...

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

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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