Ari Vatanen has been criticized by the FIA Foundation for what it considers misleading comments suggesting that Jean Todt's presidential campaign was being funded by the governing body.
Vatanen was widely quoted in the media this week suggesting that the FIA was paying for a private jet for Todt to help him on his campaign to win the presidency role later this year. Those claims have been strongly rebutted by the FIA Foundation, which has written to Vatanen to express its disappointment about his comments.
In the letter, Carlos Macaya, chairman of the FIA Foundation, said: "These assertions are totally false. For the last two years Jean Todt's partner, the internationally acclaimed actress Michelle Yeoh, has served in a voluntary capacity as the global Ambassador for the Make Roads Safe campaign which is coordinated by the FIA Foundation.
"In this role Michelle has traveled all over the world to support the campaign especially in advance of this year's first ever global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety to be held in Moscow on November 19-20.
"A centerpiece of her involvement has been the production of a documentary film, 'Turning Point,' which was broadcast worldwide in May on BBC World TV and also featured at the launch of the Commission for Global Road Safety's new report calling for a UN Decade of Action."
Macaya confirmed that Yeoh had been in Africa recently, and that Todt accompanied her on other business – which included a workshop for national sporting authorities paid for by the Motor Sport Safety Fund.
The letter added: "All these engagements are very helpful to the work of the Foundation and demonstrate the strong commitment of both Michelle and Jean to our work promoting road safety. These activities have nothing whatsoever to do with the FIA, or the recently announced election. It is very disappointing that you have chosen to misrepresent the work of a fellow Trustee in this way and belittle the magnificent contribution being made by Michelle Yeoh.
"I am also surprised that you do not seem to be aware of the truth of their involvement, as their activities have been extensively reported to you at successive meetings of the Board of Trustees of the FIA Foundation of which you are a member.
"I appreciate that during the forthcoming election for the FIA presidency there needs to be open and robust debate. However, I would ask that you do not again misrepresent the role of the FIA Foundation in this way."