FIA presidential candidate Ari Vatanen has hit back at suggestions from Max Mosley that he is going to lose the forthcoming election "badly."
Mosley stirred up controversy this week when he wrote to Prince Feisal of Jordan urging him not to back Vatanen's campaign – as he claimed the former world champion would be easily beaten to the FIA presidential post by Jean Todt. Vatanen has now responded to Mosley's stance, and believes that rather than losing badly he is seeing the tide turn in his election battle with Todt.
Speaking to the Guardian, the Finn said: "It happens in smaller elections too, and this is a Barack Obama thing happening: we believe we have more than half of the votes already and there is a tendency the tide has turned.
"The [Todt] camp has been very faithful to tactics [Mosley has] employed over the years. He has said from the word go that it's a foregone conclusion. But you cannot control people's minds when a fair election is possible.
"I know what the situation is and I am at peace with myself. We're giving people hope and they are grabbing it.
"The letter implies what is at stake in this election. It is not just two men, it's a question of two worlds. [Todt's is] a legacy of a culture and the continuity of that. But with Max's letter I have a new slogan: 'If you don't want change, then don't vote for me'."
Vatanen has been present at a Middle East FIA conference in Amman this week, where there is reported to have been some unease about the tone of Mosley's letter.
Prince Feisal of Jordan has called for action to be taken to ensure that the forthcoming election is supervised by independent bodies to ensure it is fair.
The Guardian newspaper also quoted Uganda's motorsport federation president Jack Wavamunnoas saying he felt the pressure being put on his body to vote for Todt was not right.
"The way in which I was pressurised was inappropriate," he told the conference. "I support Ari because I truly believe he is the best candidate for Uganda and Africa, but I was very saddened with the way that his opposition tried to convince me otherwise through threats and by other means."
The FIA confirmed on Friday night that only Todt and Vatanen will be standing for the election, with the deadline for applications to stand having now passed.
Both men have been asked to attend a meeting with Mosley and the FIA secretariat on October 20 to finalise plans for the election – which takes place three days later.
It has also been confirmed that both men will be invited to nominate scrutineers for the election, which will be selected by the General Assembly. The vote will also be overseen by a huissier de justice, a French state-appointed public witness.