Mosley prepares for F1 exit

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The Independent Online

Max Mosley's often controversial reign as president of the FIA will draw to a close tomorrow, with Jean Todt hot favourite to emerge as his successor.

Even in these final days of his 16 years in office, Mosley has been forced to defend himself following threats of legal action from the second candidate, Ari Vatanen, over his favouritism towards Todt.

The former World Rally champion had voiced his concerns given the apparent lobbying taking place behind the scenes within the FIA on behalf of the former Ferrari team principal, but eventually withdrew the court application.

It has all been part of the mud-slinging to have ensued over the last few months between Todt and Vatanen, tarnishing the build up to tomorrow's election.

Todt or Vatanen require a simple majority of the 221 votes to be cast, dependent on whether there are any absentees, abstentions or void ballot papers, spread across the 132 countries represented by the FIA.

Vatanen has represented himself as the candidate for change, with the Finn previously suggesting Todt will be nothing more than a Mosley clone.

"We want to make the way the FIA works more efficient and more transparent," remarked Vatanen in his manifesto to the electorate.

"Now is the time to bring about much-needed change and for that I need help from all member clubs. I am confident that together we can achieve this.

"The election is not ultimately about who becomes president of the FIA, but about ensuring this great federation is the winner and takes the correct path for its future.

"The FIA is at a crossroads and you have the power to take it on the right road."

There have recently been suggestions the election will be a close-run affair but Todt's camp are understood to be "quietly confident", according to one well-placed source.

Todt strongly criticised Vatanen earlier this month when he accused the 57-year-old of "a negative tone" to his campaign.

"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," urged Todt in a recent address to the member clubs.

"We will stick to our constructive and positive stance as we place the interest of the FIA at the core of everything we do.

"We are confident a majority of FIA clubs will recognise that our management skills and great professionalism provide the best option to meet the difficult challenges mobility and motor sport face in the future."

Tomorrow, though, is as much about the departure of one man as the appointment of his successor as Mosley's reign has been high-profile.

Although highly successful in spearheading a safety campaign that has brought about considerable improvement in motor sport, notably in Formula One, Mosley's private life has often been to the fore.

The son of former Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley last year hit the headlines over his involvement in a sado-masochistic sex session with prostitutes.

Sadly, it is this for which he will most likely be remembered as he now slips into retirement, rather than for any of his achievements as FIA president.