Max Mosley praised the integrity and capability of Jean Todt after the former Ferrari team chief's election signaled the end of his 16-year reign as president of motor racing's governing body.
| Jean Todt is the new man in charge of the FIA [AFP]
Todt, backed by his friend Mosley throughout the campaign, was voted FIA president, beating Finnish candidate Ari Vatanen 135-49 at the governing body's annual general meeting.
"I'm happy with the outcome of the vote because FIA is in very good hands,'' Mosley said.
"Todt is very capable of handling the job, he is a very honest and direct man. We couldn't have had somebody better than him.''
Vatanen had raised the prospect of the vote being affected by fraud, but Mosley said the large winning margin discounted that possibility.
"He was elected with a large majority,'' Mosley said of Todt. "So, the fairness of the vote cannot be contested.''
Vatanen rules out legal action
Vatanen had filed a legal action in France to ensure the election would be democratic before deciding this week not to sue the FIA.
According to Mosley, Vatanen's bid to succeed him was hampered by the former rally world champion's lack of experience.
"Ari Vatanen has no experience within the FIA,'' Mosley said. "He doesn't really know the federation and its rules work, while Todt has known them perfectly for at least 25 years.''
Asked if the two men could now work together, Mosley sarcastically said: "Jean Todt will have to see if he can find something for him to do.''
Mosley, who succeeded Jean-Marie Balestre of France in 1993, refuted claims he will still exert an influence within FIA and says he is happy to take a break.
"It's a relief because you never stop working at this post,'' Mosley said. "You are always worried when incidents occur. It was a good time for me to leave. I'm going to take a holiday and then we'll see. As we say, the devil makes work for idle hands.''
Mosley steps down after four terms that were characterised by political battles and personal indiscretions.
Although he oversaw enormous commercial growth in Formula One, and helped implement stricter safety conditions, his achievements were overshadowed by reports of the 70-year-old Englishman's participation in a sadomasochistic sex session with five prostitutes last year.