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GP Week : Issue 69
JEAN Todt is the new FIA President, winning last Friday's election by a staggering landslide of 135 votes to rival Ari Vatanen's 49. The voting procedure was supervised by an Huissier de Justice after Vatanen dropped his legal proceedings against the electoral process in the run-up to the vote following assurances from outgoing President Max Mosley that the vote would be held in a free and fair manner under the jurisdiction of the state- appointed witness. Todt's election to the role of President had been widely anticipated, although the sheer size of the landslide came as something of a shock following weeks of campaigning from Vatanen in which the Finn had claimed to have had the support of more than 50 percent of the voting clubs. In his acceptance speech, Todt pledged that the unity of the FIA moving forward was to be his core objective: "Everybody must share the same goals, including those who did not support me. I am not closing the door to anybody," he implored. The new President has also spoken of the manner in which he intends to run the FIA, in an interview with Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport, in which he insisted that there were some aspects of the old regime which would remain unchanged. "Not everything needs to be binned," he confirmed. "We need constructive change. What was true 10 years ago isn't true anymore now, for both road mobility and for the sport. "I feel affection for [outgoing President, Max] Mosley, but we are different in our culture, studies, and nationalities. There are many things I see differently from him. "I, as President, have to be content with indicating the path while being less present." This comment refers to Todt's plan to appoint commissioners to oversee the various aspects of the FIA's responsibilities, including separate commissioners for the major motorsport championships. Todt insinuated in his Presidential election speech that Michael Schumacher could yet play a role in the new FIA, with many putting two and two together and suggesting the seven-time world champion as Todt's number one choice for F1 commissioner. "He is like a son," said Todt of the man he helped to win five F1 world crowns at Ferrari. "There has always been a place for him next to me and there will still be." Schumacher has not commented on suggestions he may become involved within Todt's new FIA -- however he did state on his website that he believed "the right man" had won the election. Todt has also stated that he will be seeking a new harmony between the FIA and the Formula 1 teams, and FOTA itself has already stated that it is looking forward to working with the new President in the hope that, "under his guidance, the Federation will be rejuvenated and will restore a climate open to dialogue and constructive collaboration with the teams and FOTA, thus ensuring stability of the regulations and the whole environment." Outgoing President Mosley expressed his delight with the result of the election, telling the Associated Press: "I'm happy with the outcome of the vote because FIA is in very good hands. Todt is very capable of handling the job -- he is a very honest and direct man. We couldn't have had somebody better than him." Vatanen has been extremely quiet since his electoral defeat, giving just a small interview to Reuters. "I did not expect that such a vast majority would vote for Jean Todt," the news agency quoted the Finn as saying. "I thought that more people would vote for me but apparently the delegates felt the pressure." Vatanen said he hoped the regime would change under Todt, but that he doubted it would. "I hope that the FIA will become more democratic but so far it is just wishful thinking." Look out for a special feature in next week's issue of GPWeek, in which our Rallies Editor Martin Holmes looks back over former FIA President Max Mosley's often-overlooked achievements in the WRC ... Todt crushes Vatanen in FIA election 4