Fans of Formula One rarely bat an eyelid at the goings on of the FIA.
The exception to this is usually when the sport's governing body gets involved in some sort of political debate or controversy within the teams—such as the McLaren Spygate scandal in 2007 or Mercedes' Pirelli test earlier this year.
But fans should care about the upcoming presidential election, in which there are two candidates, because there is growing uncertainty over the transparency of motorsport's world governing body.
Existing FIA president Jean Todt, of Ferrari team principal fame, has been challenged by David Ward. Here, we take an initial look at what each men stands for.
Who is He?
Ex-Ferrari team principal Jean Todt is the current FIA president. He is 57 and is seeking a second term. Before he became president of motorsport's world governing body, he was a member of the World Motor Sports Council.
Official Statement (via JeanTodtandteam2013.com)
Jean Todt and his team drew up an ambitious set of goals – a Road Map to Renewal. Targeting efficiency, transparency and regeneration, this programme has rejuvenated the federation, forging an FIA that is progressive, inclusive and which operates according to the highest standards of good governance.
With a first term now complete the desire of the Jean Todt and his team to continue the work begun in 2009 is unwavering… the road map has been fulfilled and significant milestones have been reached. But with more to be done the journey is far from over.
What Are His Plans?
The lack of any official manifesto makes it difficult to summise, but here goes. His election website, Jean Todt and team, reflects on the four years of "progress" made under Todt, citing improvements in Formula One contracts, World Rally Championship regulation framework and ratification of world Rallycross and Karting championships as key examples of how he has improved the sport.
Moving forward, Todt's key areas to target are the regulatory aspects of the FIA. He wants to relocate its headquarters to Geneva and believes that F1 is strong enough to stand on its own feet now. That might mean he takes a step back and focuses on areas he views are of greater importance, such as improving motorsport's position as a provider of tourism and also continuing the FIA's road safety campaign.
You can read Todt's official document here, courtesty of Joe Saward. It's an old political trick: Avoid putting out a manifesto now so as to head off his rival's when it has been completely revealed. Todt is safe in the knowledge that he has done a solid job as FIA president, so he is riding on past successes at present. Speaking of which...
When he successfully campaigned for an inaugural term, Todt's backers were then-outgoing FIA president Max Mosley, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. Todt does not have great support from the teams within F1, whom he angered last year by not enforcing a cost cap when 10 of the 12 teams were in favour of such a restriction. Red Bull was one of the policy's detractors.
However, he did favourably renegotiate the payments made by Formula One management and the teams to the FIA, established the independent International Tribunal to oversee sporting cases (such as Mercedes' Pirelli test) and has established the framework for a new Concorde Agreement (which will in theory offer stable governance of the sport until 2020).
Who is He?
A close ally of ex-FIA president Max Mosley, he resigned as director general of the FIA Foundation earlier this year when he announced he would stand for presidential election.
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. However, in the absence of another candidate I am standing to promote an agenda of further governance reform.
What Are His Plans?
David Ward does have a manifesto, which you can read courtesy of Autoweek, and he is pushing for FIA reform.
He is adamant more needs to be done to make the governing body of motorsport more transparent; one criterion of his 20-point manifesto is to make its financial spending available to be viewed online so anyone can see what is spent where in motorsport. He also intends to keep the FIA's headquarters in Paris, appoint a chief executive officer of the FIA and adopt an official FIA policy against bribery and corruption. Ward has also previously expressed a desire to investigate areas of contention, such as Bahrain's hosting of a Grand Prix.
Among that, Ward wants to at least maintain the increased annual payment fee from Bernie Ecclestone and the teams (€25 million and €15 million respectively), or increase it, to help fund the growth of less-developed clubs based in countries that are newer to motorsport. This would pay for things like the training of marshals, an expense previously taken care of by McLaren's $100m Spygate fine—a coffer which will shortly run dry.
Ward was an aid of Max Mosley and has been highly critical of Todt in the buildup to this election. Autosport has reported a number of stories on Ward's opinion of Todt's pre-election tactics, including attacking the FIA's credibility; suggesting the election would become a farce and writing a damning letter to Jorge Tomasi, president of Uruguay's motorsport governing body.
Ward has also publicly called out Todt to explain how he intends to use the FIA's increased funding from the revised Concorde agreement (per ESPN).