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Vatanen takes on Todt in FIA election

JEAN Todt is favored against Ari Vatanen when the new president of motor racing's governing body is decided today.

Todt will have the backing from influential and outgoing FIA president Max Mosley, whose 16 years in charge have ended amid scandals.

Todt, a 63-year-old Frenchman, is a former Ferrari team principal who revived the fortunes of the flagging Italian team, and also worked on FIA's World Motor Sport Council.

The 57-year-old Vatanen is a former world rally and Paris-Dakar champion from Finland who once raced under Todt in the 1980s. He hopes his pledge to clean up a sport hit by Formula One's scandals is enough to beat Todt.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher firmly back Todt, who cites "affordability and competition, innovation and excellence" as the cornerstones of his election campaign.

Todt's style of leadership will be similar to Mosley's and offer continuity. He will likely keep most of the current senior FIA officials in their positions.

Vatanen has the support of three-time F1 champion Jackie Stewart and vows to introduce a code of ethics to FIA if he wins - a clear attempt to prove his intention to clean up motor racing's premier series.

Mosley steps down after four terms that were characterized by political battles and personal indiscretions.

Although he oversaw enormous commercial growth in F1, and helped implement stricter safety conditions, his achievements were overshadowed by reports of the 70-year-old Englishman's participation in a sadomasochistic sex session with five prostitutes last year.

There have been plenty of other scandals during Mosley's reign.

Renault received a suspended lifetime ban for ordering Nelson Piquet Jr.'s crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to help his teammate Fernando Alonso win the race. McLaren received a record $100 million fine and was stripped of its constructors' points for spying on rival Ferrari in 2007.

Vatanen promises such skullduggery will end if he is elected.


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