Vatanen calls for change at the top
Ari Vatanen says he would bring "common sense" to the FIA if his bid to replace Max Mosley as president of Formula 1's governing body is successful.
The former world rally champion says it is the "11th hour" for F1 and the FIA to save itself from self destruction.
"If F1 breaks away and starts a new series that would be the end of the FIA as we know it - it would be destructive for all of us," Vatanen told BBC Sport.
"It's the right time for change, you cannot govern in an autocratic manner."
The 57-year-old Finn, who confirmed his intention to stand on Friday, stressed that unity is the only way for the sport to solve it's current problems.
"I would stand for very simple principles, you cannot govern any society in a one-sided way, you need to take all partners into account, you need to give people a feeling that they are important, because we are all in the same boat.
"We have to remain together and we can only remain together if everybody is smiling - as we say in Finland it's better to have reconciliation and get a modest agreement than to have a big war.
"We can only be strong if we are united and we can only be united if we speak to each other, we have all got one mouth and two ears, so maybe we should use our ears more than we use our mouths.
Vatanen, who lives in France, has a background in European Union politics, an interest in road and traffic safety as well as transportation logistics and mobility, says he is standing for the benefit of the sport.
"I believe that this cause is noble, there is an opening now and I think I have the conviction and the credentials to do it," he continued.
"This cannot be an ego trip for anybody, not for Mosley, Jean Todt or Vatanen, this has to be for the FIA and only an independent man can bring the change about and swim against the current if necessary.
Former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt, is widely seen as Mosley's preferred successor should he step down, which looks increasingly likely after F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said in an interview he had "no doubt" that Mosley would honour an agreement to step down in October.
If Vatanen's bid is successful the Finn would become the first non-British or French president of the FIA.
"The nationality shouldn't matter at all, but maybe it would be a good idea to have someone from a smaller country, but in any case it's the competence that matters and this cannot be done on any other merit.
Vatanen wants to replace Mosley as FIA president
Vatanen says the threat of a split is clear evidence that change is needed within the FIA.
"Obviously the FIA needs to renew itself because the FIA family deserves it, if people are voting with their feet it means there is something wrong with the FIA and that has to be corrected."
Mosley, 69, said last month he would not seek a fifth four-year term of office as FIA president when his current terms expires in October.
It came as part of a peace deal struck with Formula 1 teams - but Mosley says he is now under pressure to stay on.
Vatanen first floated the idea of going for the presidency last month and has spent the time since consulting the FIA member clubs.
"I am already seeing positive feedback", he said in June, "I would go for it, even if I was not sure of winning."
Vatenen won the World Rally Championship in 1981 and the Dakar Rally four times, and insists he has a good relationship with Mosley.
Mosley's future appeared to have been resolved last month, when he and the Formula 1 Teams Association (Fota) - an umbrella group for eight F1 teams including Ferrari, McLaren and Renault - struck a peace deal following months of wrangling over the sport's future.
It came after Fota threatened to pull out of F1 over Mosley's plans to introduce budgetary and technical restrictions in 2010 as part of his bid to welcome new teams into the sport.
Part of the agreement was that Mosley would step down when his current term of office expired in October - and Mosley has publicly stated that this is his desired outcome.
However, Mosley has since accused the Fota teams of "dancing on his grave" and suggested he was under pressure from members of the Paris-based FIA to re-stand, despite that agreement.
"I am under pressure now from all over the world to stand for re-election," said Mosley. "I do genuinely want to stop, but if there is going to be a big conflict with the car industry, for example with the Fota teams, then I won't stop."
That has prompted Vatanen, a member of the European Parliament for 10 years, to declare his candidacy.