PARIS, October 23 – Ex-Ferrari boss Jean Todt was elected Friday to the most powerful post in motorsport as president of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).The 63-year-old Frenchman won the FIA general assembly vote against former world rally champion Ari Vatanen of Finland.
Todt succeeds the controversial Briton Max Mosley who has been in the hotseat for 16 years.
Although the new president will oversee motorsport in general, it is the marquee sport of Formula One and its future which will dominate the new agenda with Todt, who had the backing of Mosley and was tipped to win the election at FIA headquarters in Paris.
Vatanen fought a bitter battle on a ticket for change and broader democracy but Mosley, riding on the success of his Ferrari glory years, had establishment support and offered a degree of continuity.
"My team’s approach will be based on consensus not confrontation," Todt had said before the vote.
"We want to further develop F1 so that it benefits all those involved, from teams to fans. As the regulator of a hugely competitive and technically complex sport we will also establish an independent disciplinary panel to investigate breaches of the rules and to recommend the most appropriate response."
F1 has had its fair share of problems with the McLaren ‘Spygate’ controversy followed by the damaging ‘Crashgate’ affair where Renault were caught up in a scandal where former driver Nelson Piquet was ordered to deliberately crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
Mosley’s departure comes after a tumultuous period in the life of the son of 1930s British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley.
The 69-year-old won 60,000 pounds (70,000 euros, 100,000 dollars) in damages last year after a British newspaper alleged he had taken part in a "Nazi-themed sex orgy".
Mosley then had to contend with the death of his son Alexander, 39, who died of an accidental cocaine overdose at his home in London in May.