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Page last updated at 13:48 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 14:48 UK

Vatanen hits back in Mosley row

Jean Todt (left) and Ari Vatanen (right)
FIA presidential hopefuls Todt (left) and Vatanen (right) met in Singapore

By Mike Henson

Ari Vatanen has rejected Max Mosley's prediction that he "will lose badly" in his campaign to become FIA president.

The outgoing head of motorsport's world governing body is backing Jean Todt to succeed him and has sparked controversy with fresh criticism of Vatanen.

"I personally see it as another sad episode, it is not constructive," Vatanen told BBC Sport.

"It is a clash of cultures and the tide has turned, we are leading already. The dynamics are on our side," he added.

A leaked letter to Jordan's Prince Feisal, one of Vatanen's proposed vice presidents if he beats Todt on 23 October, revealed Mosley's claims.

Rufus McDufus

"Vatanen will lose the election and lose badly, not least because he chose to denigrate the FIA," read the letter.

The prince said he was "deeply disappointed by the content and insinuations" of Mosley's letter.

In the FIA-branded document dated 28 September, Mosley alleged that Vatanen's campaign "has been marked by untruthful claims" and "has now descended to insults such as his recent statements... that the entire FIA system is unfair, autocratic and unjust".

Vatanen, who was accused by Mosley of falsely stating the FIA had supplied a private jet for Todt, claimed he had been misquoted on that point in an interview.

But the Finn, 57, continued to contrast his own campaign with the existing hierarchy.

If the election is a foregone conclusion, there is no need to write such a letter

Ari Vatanen

"There is very strong intimidation in this current regime. It is a question of the new and old world. We promise new competent people who will return the derailed FIA to the straight," he said.

"My wife is my only spin doctor and she is the best because she knows right from wrong."

Mosley, who has publicly backed former Ferrari boss Todt, used his letter to respond Vatanen's criticisms of the way the FIA has been run during his reign.

"It is not possible to make statements like Vatanen's and then expect the victims of those insults to forget what has been said," read the letter.

"Any thoughts that after this election everyone in motorsport can unite and work together can now be forgotten.

Max Mosley
Mosley confirmed his decision not to seek a fifth four-year term in July

"The more Vatanen criticises these [FIA] policies and the more insulting and untrue his claims, the more he damages the interests of those associated with him."

Feisal, who was speaking at an extraordinary motoring conference in Jordan which Vatanen attended on Thursday, is one of the most high profile of those figures.

But Vatanen, who is seeking legal advice to keep the ballot secret, is confident that he will be able to unite the sport should he succeed in his bid.

"It is all about meeting every single human being as an equal, I want people to be able to express their passion for the sport without the fear of recrimination," he said.

He also claimed that Mosley, who has led the FIA since 1993, risked damaging his legacy with his handling of the elections.

"I would like FIA delegates to remember Max Mosley for the good things and his graceful style," he said.

"If the election is a foregone conclusion, there is no need to write such a letter."

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see also
F1 infighting must end - Vatanen
10 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Teams call for neutral F1 chief
25 Jun 09 |  Formula 1
Todt to stand for FIA presidency
16 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
I will quit presidency - Mosley
15 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Time for change at FIA - Vatanen
11 Jul 09 |  Formula 1

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