LONDON (Reuters) - Max Mosley backed former Ferrari boss Jean Todt as his ideal successor Wednesday after ending speculation that he would seek a fifth term as head of motorsport's world governing body.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) president wrote to all member clubs saying he had received almost 100 messages of support from within the organisation but had decided to stand down anyway.
Mosley, 69, said a new commercial 'Concorde' agreement for Formula One was close to being finalised while new teams had been brought in and costs reduced.
The Briton hinted recently that he was considering standing again but Wednesday said it would "greatly complicate my domestic arrangements and be inconsistent with my obligations to my family."
He presented Todt as the best man to take over, an endorsement that would give the Frenchman a huge advantage for the October election but that is unlikely to go down well with Formula One teams still threatening a breakaway series.
"I believe the objectives of those who have been kind enough to support me can be achieved if you elect a strong, experienced and competent team, one which will maintain the independence of the FIA and ensure that both the sport and the mobility side are properly run," said Mosley.
The Briton said that, as an ex officio member of the FIA Senate, he hoped to play "a modest role" in that team.
"I believe the right person to head that team would be Jean Todt," he added. "Jean is unquestionably the outstanding motor sport manager of his generation and arguably of any generation."
Todt, 63, presided over Ferrari's most successful period in Formula One with Germany's Michael Schumacher winning five titles in a row between 2000 and 2004. The team also racked up six successive constructors' titles.
The Frenchman won the world rally championship, the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race and Paris-Dakar as head of Peugeot motorsport. He was also CEO of Ferrari and has been involved in road safety and environmental campaigns for the FIA.
He has also been a controversial figure, ordering Brazilian Rubens Barrichello to let Schumacher win the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix in a decision that triggered a global furore and led to so-called 'team orders' being banned.
"I must emphasise he would not in any way be a motor industry candidate," said Mosley. "He would have no special relationship with his former company, Ferrari, nor with Peugeot-Citroen.
"If he agrees to stand, I think he would be the ideal person to continue but also to extend the work of the past 16 years."
Finland's Ari Vatanen, the 1981 world rally champion, is so far the only declared candidate to run motor sport's world governing body.
He won the Dakar Rally under Todt and has the support of American Automobile Association (AAA) president Robert Darbelnet, a strong critic of Mosley when the Briton was caught in a sado-masochistic sex scandal last year."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)