Daniel Ricciardo is likely to get a slightly easier ride than he may have done this weekend due to the up and coming FIA presidential election battle between Jean Todt and David Ward. Ward confirmed his candidacy for FIA president last week, making the announcement as he resigned from the FIA Foundation.
David Ward was part of Todt’s campaign in 2009 and it is not insignificant that he has resigned his role at the Federation to run against Jean Todt.
Some commentators believe the Ward candidacy is merely designed to force some concessions from Todt, yet there are ideological differences between the two which make this assessment unlikely. Commenting on the Ward manifesto James Allen says, “Today’s document – and recent briefings – reveals that Ward’s candidacy is serious and that he intends to see it through”.
The FIA has been funded by the $300m negotiated over the sale of the commercial rights and the $50m fine McLaren ended up paying for their role in ‘spygate’, however this cash is almost gone. Todt realised this and has negotiated an increased payment from the commercial rights holder under the new Concorde agreement ($25m) and now raises around $15m from the teams under the new licensing arrangements.
As Kate Walker remembers, “The last FIA presidential elections – which saw Todt secure a landslide victory over Ari Vatanen – saw rancour and legal wranglings. While that may be par for the course on the political campaign trail, it was an odd turn of events in a ‘corporate’ election with no incumbent candidate”.
Ward intends for things to be very different this time around. The manifesto has 20 points and accompanies a letter to the worldwide members of the FIA asking for their nomination and encouraging a debate on the reform of the FIA prior to their voting in early December.
Agenda for Change: 20 FIA Governance Reforms
Presidency, Management, and Location
1. Allow the FIA President the possibility to serve in a non-executive role
2. Appoint a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on a fixed term contract hired by open recruitment
3. Create a Management Board (with representation from each World Council, and chaired by the FIA President) responsible for budget matters, contract and due diligence supervision, and implementation of a multi-year Strategic Plan developed with the World Councils for approval by the General Assembly
4. Convert the Senate into a Supervisory Board (following modern corporate practice of a two tier board structure)
5. Appoint Commissioners for each FIA World Championship responsible to the World Motor Sport Council for day to day management and supervision of the championship
6. Retain Paris headquarters as main administration office and locus of the sporting power and all major contractual agreements
Resources and Club Support
7. At a time of austerity aim to reduce overheads, avoid waste, and reduce travel expenditure
8. Use all the revenue in excess of regulatory costs of the F1 Championship arising from the new Concorde agreement for investment in motor sport safety, sustainability, solidarity funding of ASN development programmes, and for training of officials and volunteers
9. Avoid duplicating the work of the FIA Foundation and the FIA Institute and concentrate FIA activities on priorities that are beyond these organisations’ mandates
10. Use any overall operating surpluses to fund development grants for clubs in low and middle income countries
Transparency and Good Governance
11. Publish annual accounts that conform to International Accounting Standards and include a narrative from the President and CEO explaining the overall performance of the FIA, key developments of the year, any relevant issues or related party transactions and future plans
12. Amend the Ethics Code so that it is fully consistent with the 2001 Statement on Good Governance Principles developed by the FIA and the International Olympic Committee
13. Adopt a policy against bribery and corruption to the latest international standards and amend the Ethics Code accordingly
14. Ensure that due diligence is carried out on all external contracts to ensure that they are consistent with competition policies and avoid commercial conflicts of interest
Elections, Eligibility and Procedures
15. Restrict eligibility for FIA Presidential election to Club Presidents or Senior Office Holders nominated by their clubs
16. Restore the Presidential term limit to two periods of four years not three as at present
17. Reduce the nominating threshold to three clubs (one from each member category)
18. Reduce the Presidential list to three: a President and two Deputies for Sport and Mobility
19. Elect the Senate President (future Supervisory Board) separately from the Presidential list
20. Ensure equal treatment to all candidates and ban any pre-election period support letters
Ward claims he is not seeking election for personal advancement, but out of necessity. “I have been approached by a wide range of FIA stakeholders encouraging me to be a candidate. The role of President of the FIA has not been something I have wanted or envisaged for myself. It has been a long time since a club leader has also led the FIA,” he writes. “However, in the absence of another candidate I am standing to promote an agenda of further governance reform.”
This is an attractive agenda for openness, reduction in the monumental waster and slashing in first class travel expenditure. Further, the proposal to remain in Paris rather than running off to a tax haven such as Switzerland
Further, Ward wants the FIA to publish annual accounts that conform to International Accounting Standards and include an annual statement from the President and CEO explaining the performance of the FIA.
There are to be regulations enacted that cover the transparency of all third-party transactions and future plans and adopting suitable ethic codes and policies against bribery and corruption to the latest international standards.
All of this will be audited with a proper due diligence process on all external contracts to ensure that they are consistent with competition policies and avoid commercial conflicts of interest.
This is no stalking horse’s agenda, and the Todt camp must realise that David Ward has issued a declaration of war. It was expected that Monza would be the weekend when Jean Todt would formally announce his candidacy for another term in office, He’s looking rather late for his own engagement party now.
Against the backdrop of Ecclestone’s imminent arrest for corruption and bribery, this agenda is like a breath of sweet, fresh air in the cesspit of the F1 atmosphere.. I’d go further and suggest this is akin to the first breaths taken by someone released from years of captivity in a dark damp cellar and the average F1 fan will surely support and applaud David Ward.