APRIL 25, 2002
Changes at the FIA?
THE presence in the Media Center in Barcelona of the FIA's Richard Woods (not in the uniform of the federation) raised a number of interesting questions, particularly as his appearance coincided with rumors from Italy and Monaco that the FIA's head of external affairs Francesco Longanesi di Cattani may be leaving the role he has held for almost 10 years. The 50-year-old Italian marquis was an international yachtsman in his youth and competed in a number of major sailing events in the 1970s and 1980s and was a member of the Italian America's Cup challenge in Newport, Rhode Island in 1983. He then spent five years as Protocol Officer for the Monaco royal family before turning to motor racing, initially working for Bernie Ecclestone but then switching to the FIA. He was briefly employed at Ferrari as well but then settled down at the FIA. We have heard whispers from New Zealand that Longanesi may be taking on a new role with the Prada Challenge in the America's Cup yachting competition. Until recently he was a member of the board of directors of the organization which runs the competition to establish which boat will challenge for the America's Cup. Woods is currently in charge of communications at the FIA Foundation and with the FIA Automobile and Touring Division but was previously involved in the British political scene. The FIA is declining to comment on the rumors.