Election day is coming and if you missed our F1B Downshift episode with Ari Vatanen, I highly recommend you listen to it. There is no secret that F1B endorses Ari Vatanen for the presidency of the FIA. That is not to say that Jean Todt is a bad guy, as Midweek Motorsport’s Nick Daman so aptly explains, but in our view Todt represent the establishment of the FIA. Todt is an establishment guy and one look further than the desperation of current FIA president Max Mosley endorsing Todt on FIA letterhead as well as writing threatening letters claiming that Vatanen will “lose big”.

The FIA needs a serious change in our view and sometimes change cannot be found within the hallowed halls of an organization. It takes a fresh look and new approach to make the changes needed. Ari Vatanen represents that new and fresh look at a rather incompetent regulatory body of late. To those ends, we had a chance to offer some questions to Mr. Vatanen and he graciously took time out of his busy campaign trail to provide F1B readers an exclusive look at some of the topics we felt were important during this unprecedented election. Here is Mr. Vatanen’s views on many issue. We feel he is spot on and we hope you will join us in supporting him by contacting your local FIA member club and demanding they vote for Ari Vatanen during the election. Enjoy:

Q: Many F1 fans understand that the FIA is the regulatory body of the sport they love but few understand its underpinnings—the process if you will. The vote is carried out by member clubs on a one club, one vote system. Is this the most effective method as ADAC, RAC and AAA represent the largest majority of FIA members in the world?

The problem in understanding has been also that the role of FIA has not been made clear for the public. FIA role is simple to give the teams and manufactures a transparent and fair platform to exercise their sport. I believe firmly that this voting system has benefits to seek ultimate solution for problems. We are all passionate about cars in one way or another and we should find each other on the common ground – not on the battle ground. That is the real problem of current FIA.

Q: There is no question that Jean Todt is an intelligent candidate (let’s leave potential bias at the door for sake of argument) and I know he is a friend of yours but would it be a safe assumption that he represents more of the same or do you see a real sense of change and improvement in his FIA manifesto as compared to yours?

This is not the battle of words – this is the battle of worlds.

I think it’s no secret that Jean represents a continuation of the current situation under Max Mosley. He is endorsed strongly by Max and he has said himself that he wants to “carry on the extraordinary work of Max Mosley”. Even if he wanted – how could he change much within the FIA when he continues with the same main players? The members feel strongly about the need for change in the FIA and that is what I am campaigning for – to make this change happen to benefit the clubs which are the owners of FIA.

Q: How do we balance the manufacturer entry as well as the cut-n-run issue in F1? Do you feel the FIA has a bigger role to play in getting the manufacture to commit long-term or is this something a FOTA membership for the entering team can be more effective at?

See my answer to the first question. A piece of paper will not keep the manufacturers in our sport if we are deaf for their needs. It is in the interest of FIA to offer the competitors an attractive platform, in other words: the constructors, teams and sponsors find a good value for their money and the working environment is stable and pleasant with a good visibility. Prospering competitor will stay in FIA championship. In order to achieve this we all have to sit around the table and listen to one another. FIA should be the force to unite all the partners. This is not rocket science!

Q: Does FOTA exist because the FIA fell short of communicating, regulating and initiating effective regulatory policy? Did they cease to represent the teams effectively? Or is it something else entirely?

The teams felt that despite their massive investment they do not get their voice heard. Still today they are in the receiving end too often. It had been a bit odd that the party which forms the championship did not have a common body. For FIA it is always easier to talk with one than to many. By working with constructive manner FIA and FOTA could raise F1 sport to entirely new heights. I welcome FOTA-kind of organisations to other Championships also.

Q: How would you work with FOM and CVC to seek harmony on a market-by-market basis concerning sanctioning fees commensurate with the market’s ability to pay versus a “highest Bidder” model? Or do you envision your presidency working with the commercial arm of F1 in such a strategic fashion?

FIA must have the main competitions on all continents. We need races in emerging countries but we must not alienate our traditional fan base either. The long term health of F1 can only be achieved by balanced approach.

Generally: I think that strategy for the future should be done with all the stakeholders together. This way to work has proved to be the best solution in successful cases and brings the necessary commitment from all the parts. This should be done by FIA`s supervision.

We have to remember that just maximise the short term profit has always been a wrong approach to a long term projects and brands.

We must start now working on the next Concorde agreement which is hopefully 10 years long. The partners will commit to a long contract if it opens them a possibility to increase their business value. There is a lot of potential in F1 which will never come to fruition in the current “status quo” concept.

Q: F1 aside, what major issues should the motorist and motoring clubs around the world know about a Vatanen presidency? How can the personal vehicle experience be improved by your cabinet with deference to the public transportation sector and safety issues?

I was working in EP for 10 years on the mobility issue which is essential in building the wealth of a nation. Despite an excessive taxation people take 9 times out of 10 a private car because it gives them – and consequently to the society at large – un paralleled advantages. The public transport has to be developed on its own merit – not by hampering the individual forms of transport. The role of FIA president is to defend the fair treatment of road transport at the highest political decision making. An adequate road infrastructure is also safe and saving human lives globally must be the priority for FIA.

Q: You announced your VP candidates today; tell us what values the Vatanen team would bring to the FIA through these individuals.

The decisions of a man stem from his values. Our values are honesty and transparency. And when we get it wrong we apologise and try to rectify our action.

Like you have seen, we want to come with new people also. The change is very difficult to make if the people have been in power for too long. It is human to resist everything new.

Q: As F1 Fans, what does a Vatanen presidency mean to them; how can we support the Ari Vatanen campaign? Can we lobby our local motoring clubs for their endorsement of a Vatanen presidency? Or is there a more effective way to voice our support?

I want to give the fans a governing body of motor sport you can trust and respect. Without you there would be no motor sport. Use all the possible means to make sure that you are not walked over and your voice is heard. More passion and less politics!

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Very much the politician. Questions were not always answered directly, but he’s still our man. I’m firmly against Todt, but I’m not just supporting Vatanen as a knee-jerk reaction. I choose to believe that, unlike another popular change-agent, he will implement the policies he has as part of his platform. Good luck, sir!


If there was a crowd gathered listening to this interview, they would be chanting “More Passion, Less Politics” at the end.

Since this election is a secret-ballot of sorts, is there any way that one could “punish” member clubs for not voting for Todt? How safe is this “secret-ballot” for member clubs?


Well the ballot may not be very secret at all- see this story in the Guardian:

In some ways these stories make me feel quite positive for Ari – it seems like Mosley, Todt and co are running scared.