Max Mosley is no longer the FIA president.
Jean Todt has been elected to the role, with a landslide majority and this will mean some major changes in the structure of the body which regulates the F1 world championship.
Todt had 135 backers, with Vatanen on 49 and there were 12 abstentions.
Todt stood on a ticket which emphasized ‘teamwork’ – which is what he was known for as a leader of the Ferrari F1 team during the most successful period in its history.
He has a very powerful group around him and a strong roster of vice presidents. One of the most influential figures in the new regime is an American, Nick Craw, who also played an important role in Mosely’s reign. He becomes president of the FIA Senate. In charge of the sporting side of the FIA is Graham Stoker, from the RAC Motor Sports Association in the UK.
Todt will make some immediate changes which will be felt before the start of the next F1 season. He plans to introduce an F1 commissioner to oversee the FIA’s role in the sport, dealing with the teams, with Bernie Ecclestone and with the rule making process. Todt is set to keep himself at arm’s length from the sport. With the election now out of the way, attention will now focus on who the F1 commissioner will be.
Also he plans to strengthen up the stewards, who have been the centre of some controversy in recent years. It remains to be seen whether Mosleys’ trusted deputy Alan Donnelly will retain the role. Rumours during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend suggested that he might not. Perhaps he is hoping for the F1 commissioner’s role? How much of a regime change are we likely to see?
Todt plans to introduce a completely new disciplinary panel for F1, which will be less reliant on the World Motor Sports Council than Mosley’s regime was. The World Council would continue to meet to vote through major changes, but even there Todt’s team proposes to conduct a root and branch review of the effectiveness, transparency and efficiency of all the FIA’s committees and Councils. As always the devil will be in the details, such as the make up and independence of the Disciplinary Panel and the Appeal Court.
There was a swift reaction to his victory from the teams. FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo, said “I would like to send my best wishes to Jean Todt in his new role, as I have always appreciated his ability, dedication and commitment. I am sure that, under his guidance, the Federation will be rejuvenated and will restore a climate open to dialogue and constructive collaboration with the teams and FOTA, thus ensuring stability of the regulations and the whole environment.
“Formula One is about to embark on a new phase: all the stakeholders must work together with an eye to the future, to increase the credibility and interest generated by this sport, tackling the technical and environmental challenges that await it, while keeping unchanged, those characteristics that have made it one of the most popular disciplines on the world stage”.
Todt was a divisive figure when he ran Ferrari. However many of the people Todt clashed with in the past are no longer in F1, like Ron Dennis and Flavio Briatore. But Frank Williams is still there and he has been close to the FIA under the recent Mosley regime. It will be fascinating to see how that relationship works. Toyota’s John Howett was less than enthusiastic about the idea of a Todt presidency over the summer, one of few F1 team principals to express a view on this subject.
Although Howett didn’t mention Todt by name, he said that the FIA should elect someone ‘independent’. Today Howett welcomed Todt with these words, “I am convinced that Jean Todt’s presidency represents an opportunity for all Formula One’s stakeholders to unite under his leadership and work together to strengthen our sport.
Todt’s policy agenda calls for the FIA to make motorsport safe and sustainable and he has a strong green agenda. I imagine that the measures voted through this week on a new engine formula, based around regenerative technology and fuel efficiency will be the cornerstone of his strategy to use motor sports as a catalyst for a culture change in automotive technology.
He has devoted considerable effort along with his wife the actress Michelle Yeoh, to the FIA’s Make Roads Safe campaign.