Q & A with Ari Vatanen
Thursday, October 22nd 2009, 15:35 GMT
The FIA will elect a new president in Paris on Friday, with either Jean Todt or Ari Vatanen to be picked as the man to take motorsport and motoring into the new decade.
This week AUTOSPORT asked each of the election candidates for his thoughts on his campaign, what he stood for and what he hopes to achieve in office.
In the interests of fairness to both sides, Vatanen and Todt were asked the same question and given the same opportunities to respond.
Here are their full unedited answers.
1. If elected president, what will be your first act in power?
Ari VatanenAri Vatanen: The first thing I would do would be to analyse all of the situations and then prioritise them ready to sort out one by one. After that, we will bring in the experts from the outside to act as consultants and make sure the job is done perfectly. You need this kind of clear analysis, without that, talk of what would be is empty words. There will be clear changes before the end of the year. It will not business as usual for the FIA.
2. What are your qualities that will make you a worthy FIA president?
AV: I have very big difficulties to say openly what my qualities are myself; this kind of thing shouldn't come form myself. But, I think life has given me credibility for this job.
3. What do you consider to be the single biggest challenge that the FIA faces during the next four years?
AV: We have to defend this mode of transport - the mode of transport which is chosen by more than a billion people. Automotive transport deserves and demands equal treatment with other modes of transport. We want more funding for the road infrastructure, which translates into saving more lives by reducing the number of road accidents.
We have seen when the mobility of people is enhanced, the standard of living inevitably follows. Mobility equals the eradication of poverty. That mobility also leads to an increase in technology and its through increased technology - not via reduced mobility – that we can answer the environmental question.
4. At the forthcoming UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, western democracies are almost certain to come under pressure to make significant reductions in CO2 emissions. What can the FIA do to improve motor sports's environmental credentials and ensure its long-term sustainability in the face of ever tougher 'green' regulations?
AV: Motorsport should always spearhead technology, wherever it can. And I am a very strong believer in technology; man has always underestimated it. Nanotechnology has given us steel that is 100 times stronger and six times lighter than before. And the medicine we take tomorrow is better than that of today – this is technology. It's through the innovations of motorsport that we will clarify the question of CO2 'pollution' to the public. Long term, motorsport and the technology involved in it will answer the question of automotive environmental sustainability.
5. In recent years Formula 1 has attracted widespread publicity for scandals such as spying and race fixing, what will you do as president of the FIA to get the attention turned back to the on-track action?
AV: I have answered this many times. The answer to this is to have all of the members of the Formula 1 family sitting around a table and debating the future. This includes the media. Tell me, when was the last time the FIA asked for your ideas on the future of the sport? Come on, they haven't. If you criticise F1, you lose your pass. That's not the way. We all play a key part in making the sport more spectacular and more attractive to the masses.
We can all have the input into unlocking the vast potential which remains in F1. Equally, that has to be combined with an independent judicial system that people have confidence in. When people don't have a a fair say, we have seen that it can lead to the potential break-up of F1. We must learn from our mistakes.
6. How can the FIA reconcile the desire to take motor sport into new markets while at the same time ensuring the traditional fan base does not miss out?
AV: The FIA is, by definition, international. We have to go to all continents. What happens in Africa? There is no grand prix, no round of the World Rally Championship; hey, there's not even the Paris-Dakar anymore. The market's capacity to pay for races has to be taken into account, but places like Africa cannot afford to pay the same – but must be represented. While we favour the emerging markets where the demography is working, we must maintain races where the infrastructure is already in place. We need a balanced approach, but we cannot ignore people anymore.
This leads to a bigger question of how the FIA is run. Right now, we don't know how the decisions are taken. This is wrong. We don't know where the money comes form and where the money goes. The FIA needs to be run like a public company, it needs complete transparency and accountability. When we have this, growth will inherently follow because people will have confidence in such an organisation taking F1 and the whole automotive family forward.
7. Are there any changes that you feel are needed in the structure of the FIA in order for it to operate more effectively in all areas, from running world motorsport to global mobility?
AV: All the building blocks are there. It's a question of our spirit. Do we have spirit of fair play in the FIA? It's not the case today. Fair play and justice is what we need. The rules are there, but we must not interpret them to the advantage of some and to the detriment of many.
8. Outgoing president Max Mosley was in power for 16 years, what lessons can be learned from the way he ran motor sport?
AV: Take his determination and the justice and democracy I will bring and this will make a good combination.
9. In one world sum up your style of presidency?
AV: Fair. Like my hair!