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Todt warns F1 drivers to play it safe on the roads
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Todt warns F1 drivers to play it safe on the roads
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Jun 2010   |  11:46 am GMT  |  117 comments

There’s a very interesting snippet in Le Parisien newspaper today in France, where FIA president Jean Todt says that F1 drivers who get into trouble on the roads, as Lewis Hamilton did in Australia this year, could face sanctions on the race track.

Todt is putting the “Make Roads Safe” campaign the cornerstone of his presidency, with the mission of saving five million lives on the roads during a decade of action.


High profile incidents like Hamilton’s “Hooning” charge, for which he is being tried in August, are embarrassing for Todt, who sees the world’s most famous drivers as vital role models for his campaign. Hamilton has been charged with deliberately losing control of a vehicle, for an incident where he did burn-outs as he left the circuit one night.

“There is an incompatibility between the status of a role model champion, and a possible infringement on the road, ” says Todt. “A driver is a driver like the others. We are therefore trying to see whether to do something, and how.

Last year 1.3 million people died on the roads, the majority in the developing world. Todt wants to use the vast communication platform of F1 to deliver powerful messages about making the roads safe and this is a clear warning to F1 drivers to keep themselves under control.

“The forecasts for 2020 are terrible, and they estimate that nearly two million people will be killed if no action is taken by then, ” adds Todt. “Now, with a minimum of dialogue, that figure could be halved. This requires education, improved road networks, and the involvement of new technology on cars.”

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117 Comments
  1. Safety First says:

    I think its a great idea. When Lewis was banned from driving in France it was pure idiocy. There is no reason for speeding (and before the “we all do it” parade come in. I dont) on the roads but normal road users sometimes feel the need to test the power of their cars and have no real outlet for this except trackdays, so they stupidly do it on public roads.

    In the case of F1 drivers; considering they drive very fast cars quite often what need is there to see how fast they can go on normal roads?

    I dont know of any other driver on the field bar lewis whos done this sort of thing but if they can be punished for it then they should.

    1. Phil Curry says:

      Mansell, Senna, Schumacher and Hill are just some of those who have been stopped for speeding. It’s not a recent development.

      Anyway, when driving at 180mph is normal, wouldn’t driving at 70mph seem rather pedrestrian?

      1. TM says:

        Don’t really see how it seeming pedestrian to the drivers is an excuse. If an F1 driver hits someone at 100mph it’s going to have the same results as you or me hitting someone at 100mph. These people are adults, they need to control themselves.

      2. Michael C says:

        entirely agree – if anything they have less excuse than us mere mortals – as they get the chance to do the speed on the track (and in someone elses million pound car – and most of the time get paid to do so as well!!

    2. Henry says:

      If you got a speeding fine as a professional tennis, football, golf, baseball, rugby player, or any other sportsman, it would not impact on your job. And it shouldn’t for F1. I dont want to know about their lives off the track. I like the fact that they are not overly pestered when they are not around the tracks, I do not want F1 to become a celebrity obsessed culture; its getting that way but not overly so. In the same way that i do not expect John Terry to be a role model for anyone, I do not want F1 drivers to have to assume that mantle. It is not necessary, and it pushes the sport away from being purely sport. Which is what it should be.

      1. TM says:

        Yes but the John Terry example isn’t a parallel because nobody is asking John Terry not to dribble so fast when away from a football match and in a public park.

        ‘Ben’ makes an excellent point to ‘ChrisK’s point (comment number 3 below), that these drivers are saying they suport the program and so need to show it.

      2. Henry says:

        Haha I like the image of Terry being cautioned for running too fast…yes its not a perfect parallel, but I was mainly trying to point out how in various sports the players are assuming roles far beyond those of mere sportsmen. Which i think is unnecessary, unless they are acting in a capacity representing their team or a sponsor, etc.

        Then again I do see that if the FIA make it a cornerstone of F1, the drivers that submit to it and try to act accordingly. However they should not be punished as such. If this happens it sets a precedent for legislating their private lives, and I can imagine many of the drivers being unimpressed with that decision. Maybe a public apology in the capacity of an FIA-licensed driver, etc, but not a penalty to their racing.

      3. Paul Kirk says:

        I don’t know who John Terry is, Henry, and I don’t see racing drivers as role models, but many people admire the person. EG, look at the following Valentino Rossi has, probably more than any other sportsman around the world, but most of them don’t give a stuf what he dose when he’s away from the track, they admire him for his personallity and skills, and reputation. A lot of people recognise Lui as a skillfull racing driver, but they don’t care what he does after hours. Incidently, what is a role model? PK.

      4. Voyager says:

        I’d rather any ‘role models’ to be more like like James Hunt and Barry Sheene than some corporate puppets.

    3. Crom says:

      Wonder if this would also apply to team principals… I recall Ross Braun got caught speeding last year, was fined but escaped a ban

    4. Trix says:

      Alonso has done it too.

      1. Thalasa says:

        When and where? Any sort of way to prove it?

    5. ThePieman says:

      So Lewis is the only driver “to do this sort of thing”, is he? Personally I doubt that very much. What he is though, is the only one to get caught.

      As a side issue – would Toni Liuzzi have received the same massive slating in the press that Lewis got? No. subsequently, would Mr Todt be warning F1 drivers to play it safe on the roads. I don’t think so…

      1. James Allen says:

        He’s not the only one to get caught. Button was done for speeding in France years ago. Schumacher had a speeding fine, albeit when he was retired.

    6. stig says:

      it people like you that make all the crashes becouse you go round holding evey one up and we all have to try and over take. trust me 90% of people speed and we arnt talking by 100mph or anything. if the speed limits were more realistic then more drivers would stick to them. every one in high and famous positions are to scared to say it becouse they have to be seen to be politically correct(all speed in any shape or form is bad)

      the speed limits have been the same for year yet the the car of to day are a 100 times better. of cores there are places that have low speed limits for good resons but on a motaway 3am no one on it does it relly matter if your doing 70 or 100 no!!!

      1. Paul Kirk says:

        I’ll tell you what hasn’t improved, Stig, and that’s drivers’ skills! I see it so often, foreigners come to our country, get a licence, (some of them don’t get a licence) and drive on our roads with skill levels that are shocking! (I won’t mention skin colours here). Certain people just don’t have IT, they shouldn’t be alowed to drive at all. Cars are great, roads are great, but the drivers should be required to meet better standards, if they can’t, then they shouldnt be alowed to drive at all!
        PK.

    7. RickeeBoy says:

      Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with Jean on this point of saving lives he’s taking the easy route on picking on Motor Racing drivers This brings into question a number of things.

      - Double Jeopardy – Why should a Motor Racing driver be prosecuted twice for an offence where he’s already been prosecuted by a Public judge and jury. ( Therefore, its difficult to police )
      - So … will Formula Ford drivers be prosecuted to the same degree as F1 drivers or will it only be F1 drivers and is it this months drivers or what about past F1 drivers ???

      It doesn’t make sense from a legal and justice perspective and would be fought in the courts.

      It’s the Judge’s and the Law’s job to prosecute the guilty person with a fair penalty – it’s not Todt’s job to prosecute on the Public roads – he has no Jurisdiction as his area is the representative of Motor Sport and the worlds motoring organisations therefore keep to this area.

      1. Paul Kirk says:

        You’ve raised some good points Rickee, and I agree with you. And I’d rather be with a racing driver at 150 km than a Samoen at 50.
        PK.

      2. Henry says:

        “It’s the Judge’s and the Law’s job to prosecute the guilty person with a fair penalty – it’s not Todt’s job to prosecute on the Public roads – he has no Jurisdiction as his area is the representative of Motor Sport and the worlds motoring organisations therefore keep to this area.”

        I entirely agree, good point. Aside from the dubious nature of whether the FIA should be allowed to do this, the more pressing issue in my mind is that it will have little or no effect. The vast majority of deaths by motor accidents happen in developing countries which have almost no safety measures, tests which are not very complicated ways of bribing officials, speed limits which are very simple ways of bribing officials, roads which are either so congested or so bad that the cars cannot drive overly fast anyway, unless they are devoid of traffic and people in which case it doesn’t matter. So it is essentially a waste of time and money for the FIA to pursue this well intentioned aim, albeit badly construed and based on a suspect premise.

  2. Prili says:

    why?
    if they want to go quicker they could,if the police catch them they must pay .simple as that.
    you could write sometihing about raikkonen and rally rather then forumla 1.

  3. ChrisK says:

    It seems to me that Todt is part right but mainly wrong. I don’t see that, in general, a race driver’s conduct on public roads should necessarily have any bearing on his standing on the race track.

    Having said that, I can see that there could be occasions when a driver’s conduct is so unacceptable that he may not be wanted in the sport.

    Taking Hamilton’s indiscretion as an example, I do not see why he should be punished for exuberance. However, if he did this regularly and clearly did not take into account local laws and the safety of local people, it could be considered that he should be punished on the track, since it could be argued that he may have the same, unsafe approach.

    Difficult!

    1. Ben says:

      The primary message of “Make Roads Safe” has to be – do this on the track in a controlled environment, not on the road.

      The drivers, who support the program, have to project this message. Its counterproductive if any driver (not just Hamilton) says this message, then goes and breaks local road laws. That is why the FIA feel they should punish them on track. Keep to the message if you want to have an effect.

      1. James Allen says:

        I agree with you on this

      2. Bevan says:

        The only thing Lewis owes Todt is the one fingered salute eh,he signed up to drive F1 cars,the role model thing is in everyone’s imagination,just ask Max Mosely the former FIA head honcho what he thinks about role models.No,public road infringements should never be linked to a superlicense just because the FIA’s new captain has a pet project,the FIA is solely responsible for rules & regs on race day & race car worthiness & eligibility,nothing more nothing less.

      3. Anthony says:

        However, Hamilton was not speeding…

    2. Andy W says:

      Not sure I quite follow…. how is it mostly wrong?

      Racing drivers are role models, they do set examples that others want to follow and if F1 can do as much to carry on improving road safety as it has in the past then it needs to look at more than just car design but it also has to look at the drivers…. if they are clowning around and breaking the road regulations/laws then they should be stopped.

      Personally I would hate to see off track behaviour spoiling the racing, and I am fairly sure that the drivers will feel the same way… and they have a simple way to make sure it doesn’t (should Todt’s ideas bear fruit) and thats to behave on the roads.

      The only thing that I request is that the track penalties are consistent and clear, that there are as few gray areas as possible and that the officials handing out penalties have to give a public statement explaining all the circumstances in their decision and punishment.

      If drivers want to show off to the fans and have some fun, then why not close off a car park or whatever and put on an exhibition…

      1. kbdavies says:

        “Racing drivers are role models, they do set examples that others want to follow”

        Err, in what way exactly are racing drivers role models??? And what example to they set for other to follow???
        People choose to make role models out of their sporting heroes, without knowing anything about their characters. In a recent survey, Jordan, aka Katie Price, was found out to be the biggest role model for girls ages between 8 – 12!

        These are human beings, no better than anyone else, and just as fallible. The idea that because YOU choose to put them on a pedestal, and should be punished when they don’t meet up with your expectations is absurd!

    3. Lalit says:

      ChrisK – I think you missed one important point. These guys are supposed to be role models. Since most of them can only be a role model behind the wheel, its imperative that they set the right example.

      Excellent step from mr. Todt i believe.

      1. Voyager says:

        I think they are ‘supposed’ to be drivers.

        It is just the outside pressures, such as the commercial environment, that turns them into ‘role models’ isn’t it?

    4. Paul Kirk says:

      They say Lui purposely lost control, (or words to that effect), but I’d rather be with Lui or any other experienced racing driver going sideways at 150 ks than most every-day drivers doing 50ks in a straight line!!! And he didn’t “loose control” anyway, he just flicked it sideways on purpose in complete control).
      PK.

  4. Jon says:

    If their ridiculous PR should be taken seriously.. YES.

    If you accept that it’s about “making good impressions” and the drivers are following what the team wants them to do, and the drivers don’t believe a word they are saying.. NO.

    It’s all about credibility.

    Normally I would say sportsman should not expected to be any more of a rolemodel, then the milkman down the street. Both are driving for a living. Sportsman are doing their jobs like anyone else.

    I am reminded of the controversial Charles Barkley Nike commercial from the 90′s.. where he said that he is not a role model, and it’s up the parents to raise their kids, not him.

    However.. when one of them does extensive PR about “making roads safe”, and being sensible, and then is charged for “hooning”, it’s just became a mockery/parody.

    So thumbs up to Jean Todt for trying to straighten it out and give the FIA campaigns some credibility.

    If drivers want the ability to “hoon”, they should say no to campaigns like this. Rather then saying yes to anything and everything. Because then it becomes rather fake, and quite frankly a joke.

    I commend that Todt seems focussed more on things like this, rather then dominating F1 news due to politics and personal relationships, unless his friend and predocessor.

    There is alot more to the FIA then just being F1 referees. There is rallies, GT racing etc plus don’t they oversee all world wide racing overall in terms of circuit standards? Except for USA. There is also the motor clubs and the non racing issues like road safety, emissions, etc etc. It seemed to me that Mosley wanted as much attention as possible, so by default F1 was the thing he cared about most. Where as at this point, Todt seems to has his eyes fixed on more noble goals.

    1. Rich C says:

      I’d bet a zillion bucks that no one outside the F1 “circle” knows anything about this issue anyway, so its a complete non-starter.

      1. So are you saying they shouldn’t try?

      2. Jon says:

        Which issue do you mean? Do you mean the original “make roads safe” campaign.

        Or do you mean the embaressment of Lewis being caught and charged?

        You’d be surprised how many people in Melbourne know about this issue. I don’t live in Melbourne but have heard alot of talk about it (alot of it from NON F1 fans)..

        Being the F1 representitive for Australia, Webber took Hamilton’s side and criticised Victoria’s laws calling them a “nanny state”. It was something that many non F1 fans used as an excuse to really dig the knife in Webber and also F1.

        On talk back radio, people even went as far as to say that some of the road deaths could be blamed on Webber. :O

        Road safety, and people dying on the roads is a pretty sensative issue in some parts of the world. Every year, the police know in certain times of the year that they are going to happen, and then they do, and over time they get quite frustrated by the whole thing.

        This is the only online source I can find which talks about this issue. [url]http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/14/2899739.htm?site=thedrum[/url]

        If you are talking about the original FIA campaign.. it does seem pretty low key. The people that see this campaign in real life seems like it would be quite small. I don’t know how much of a difference it makes.. but it’s a noble cause and like Leigh says, there is no harm in trying.

    2. TM says:

      Yes but if the milkman has his license revoked for something he does in his private car then he would be penalised in his work life too because he wouldn’t be able to drive the milk float, and might even lose his job. Or if he gets points on his license then his employer’s insurance would go up and again, he may be punished. So your example doesn’t quite stack up.

      I agree that it’s silly for anyone to see a footballer, racing driver, cricketer, etc. as some sort of moral role model for their or their childrens general lives. If a driver has an affair or gets into trouble for stealing an apple then no, his superlicense probably shouldn’t be affected. But when an indiscretion is directly related to their profession (i.e. in this case driving), then yes I do think in some cases a punishment within the sport would make sense. They need to take responsibility in the area of their profession.

      Additionally, these drivers don’t mind using their profession away from the track to make money, e.g. to sell cars. If they are happy to use their profession in this way away from the track then they should also take responsibility on demonstrating road safety away from the track.

      1. Jon says:

        Good post, I agree.

  5. Buffy Minton says:

    Is this the same FIA that allowed an F1 driver, who deliberately crashed his car in a race, to walk away without punishment? And now they want to retrospectively sanction Hamilton for the crime of burning some rubber?
    Does Jean Todt really believe that this will save lives on the road? Maybe Todt can implore the car manufacturers (including his previous employers) to fit the car with safety devices that prevent wheel spin and/or fun? Maybe Ferrari should stop making 200MPH road going supercars?
    It really is high time that F1 divorced itself from the FIA, leaving it to continue its main mission as some sort of worldwide car owners club.

    1. Red5 says:

      Why should Nelson Piquet Junior be punished twice?

      Once for being Flavio’s bitch.

      Second for listening to his father.

    2. CH1UNDA says:

      the same FIA that argued that Max Mosley private life had nothing to do with his FIA duties – well similarly a driver’s private life on the road has nothing to do with his working life. Afterall if a 67 year old FIA president engaging in immoral habits is not expected to be a role model why should we expect it from a 25 year old driver burning some rubber?

      1. Paul Kirk says:

        Good point, Ch1unda!!!
        PK.

      2. TM says:

        Yes but Mosley’s profession wasn’t based around family values.
        Racing driver’s professions are based around driving.
        This is the key difference.

        Nobody would see what Mosley was doing and think ‘well he’s famous for his role in family values, so I’ll copy him’. But people will see Hamilton and think ‘he’s famous for this professional driving, so I’ll copy him’.

      3. Paul Kirk says:

        Hay TM, I don’t think people copy individules, but they might get interested in the sport they’re into, eg., they get into motorsport because they know someone who does it, or they start smoking (God forbid) because his mate’s friend does it and he thinks it makes him look cool, etc., or get into “drifting” because they see it so often on TV, or boxing, then once they get involved they get hooked. OK, there is an exception and that is Elvis impersonators, but that sort of copying is not common. I can’t remember anyone that I’ve met in the last 55 years that have copied the actions of an individule person.
        PK.

    3. EM says:

      Great post. Well made points.

      When younger I used to drive faster after watching an F1 race. How can they stop that?

    4. Prof Bolshaviks says:

      Are they talking about retrospectively? Or just in the future?

  6. michael says:

    One can only respect and support Mr. Todt on this! Also, he is damn right on mentioning, “the incompatibility between the status of a role model champion, and a possible infringement on the road” the rebel days are long gone the true outlaw now wears Ralph Lauren and Versace ties! ;-) But seriously Todt is correct on this!!! What we can do we always should and must do.

    1. Red5 says:

      Looks like Michelle chooses his clothes…

  7. Brian says:

    It was a bad choice on Ham’s part to show off a little, but I seriously DOUBT he lost control of the car. Bogus charges!

  8. Phil Waddell says:

    I don’t remember Jean Todt being quite so opinionated when Michael Schumacher drove into the side of Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez in 1997.

    I don’t have a background in road safety, but I would suggest more of the 1.2 million deaths on the road are caused from drivers deliberately driving into others than from drivers wheel-spinning away from traffic lights.

    Of course, Hamilton’s indiscretion was on a public road while Schumacher’s was on a race track but Schumacher was watched by many millions of impressionable young drivers. The FIA held him to account then but seem to have forgotten all about it now.

  9. Paul Mc says:

    Their actions on the roads should absolutely be linked to their racing license. If they are behaving like idiots on the road they should be reprimanded professionaly for it. Im sure they have a code of Ethics to follow from the FIA and behaviour off the circuit should be reprimanded.

    If your representing the sport at the highest level you should know better. Lewis was being a show off…he has a Pussycat doll as a girlfriend..does he need to show off anymore? :)

  10. phil says:

    This is completely absurd.
    The drivers are role models because of their fast and exciting driving and competitive spirit.
    To penalise them for offences committed elsewhere is silly, what would the penalty be loss of points? So we could have someone losing the world championship for going 43 in a 40 linit

    1. Phil Waddell says:

      Nicely put!

      “This year’s world champion is the second fastest driver. This is because the fastest driver was a bit TOO fast.” Nuts!

  11. Matt W says:

    The FIA can’t even officiate the rules they have at the moment so I think they should steer clear of penalising anyone for activities outside of F1 until they sort their own mess out. Constant officiating errors and insane and inconsistent punishments have brought F1 into disrepute far more than minor road offences ever will.

    The only time they need to step in is with an incident so serious (like causing death or serious injury) that a driver should have no place on the grid. However, if that were ever to happen the teams and sponsors would drop that driver like a hot potato so that FIA just don’t need to get involved.

    I for one don’t want to see the championship effected by something completely removed removed from the track.

  12. Phil Curry says:

    should there be sanctions? Yes, maybe a fine, some FIA service (as Schumacher had to do after his ‘collision’ in 1997) but it should not be linked to their superlicence.

    Many a great F1 champion has been caught breaking the rules of the road, it is not a recent thing. I remember the news report when Senna was stopped near Woking, and the police officer asked “who do you think you are, Nigel Mansell?” – to which he calmly replied “no, I’m Ayrton Senna”.

    For an F1 driver, I can imagine that driving at regular speed requires a lot of concentration on what they are doing to keep to the limit. It could be akin to sailing, then getting your bearings on the land again.

    Yes Lewis was stupid, he apologised, will pay the fine, and yes he should be doing something for the campaign. Taking away his superlicence is not the answer

  13. Khan says:

    Anyone who is watched by millions of people round the globe is a role model. It is very easy to adopt a negative act rather than a positive one. Though it may sound a little harsh for banning a race driver for an incident away from sport, Todt does have a point. Why not ask drivers to officially join the cause via media and tv outlets.

  14. Bim / Sweden says:

    Oh common, what do the FIA want do control next what underwear a driver has?
    F1 driving and driverlicence on road are 2 separate things.

  15. Alysha says:

    While I don’t think a racing driver should be punished for road incident, I don’t see how someone could hold a racing license when his driver’s license is suspended or pulled.

  16. Red5 says:

    Think Todt is right about this, as are many of the people who have posted so far today.

    However, of the 820 people who voted I am surprised 63% disagree.

    You should be honored, James, that Hamilton is such a frequent visitor to your blog.

  17. Satish says:

    Maybe the FIA should focus more on ensuring proper stewarding is done on the track than go around policing what drivers do off track. After all, there IS are actual police officers who pulled up Lewis for hooning and set up a court appointment, right?

    Let’s leave it at that, lest the police come to every race and stat writing out tickets to the drivers for speeding.

  18. AA says:

    They can make cars very safe with little chance of injury – look at rallying. Thing is, it’s still cheaper for the car makers to pay compensation than it is to make the cars safer by fitting the extras needed to do so. Maybe Todt should look in that direction…

    of course, there’s a limit. you wouldn’t want to wear a full helmet and race suit doing day to day driving on the roads, but car makers could still go alot furher, as could road design.

  19. Osteogeek says:

    Todt is right that dangerous driving should not be condoned, like Lewis’s speeding offence in France. On the other hand, a bit of showing off to the fans with a wheel spin is almost expected. I don’t think Lewis placed anyone in any risk, or even himself, by lighting up his rear tyres to please the fans. If they do follow through on this, the FIA will need to apply some of their own judgment, rather than blindly follow legal decisions in different jurisdictions for the sake of consistency.

  20. Sebee says:

    Didn’t Schumi commandeer a taxi and take it for a joy ride family and all? Sorry Schumi to bring it up. Personally I thought it was awesome. But Todt would not approve.

  21. Heffalump says:

    Only in the world of F1 would a snippet from a French newspaper create the massive headlines we have seen today on this mildly interesting topic.

  22. jonrob says:

    Ludicrous, at no time was Hamilton not in full control. The case will be throw out if the Oz police don’t want to be humiliated. Had they given Lewis a severe ear bending, everyone would understand, but to accuse one of the world’s best drivers of being out of control is a DNQ.

    If Todt’s idiotic proposal were enforced in the world of football there would be no teams able to field a full team on any weekend. ( Now as I am not a football fan perhaps this would be a good thing)
    This is again bringing outside legal intrusion into F1. If Todt must do something then let him announce a censure over the PA at each GP.

  23. For Sure says:

    I think role models are one of the greatest in influencing people’s behavior.
    Famous Schumacher saw what Senna did on the track. He thought it took a man to take people out and win at all cost. BUTTTT let’s not discuss the Senna Vs Schumi here.
    The point is that role models can influence to even a highly intelligent man (well a seven-time world champion).
    A guy like Lewis is a hero to many. And there are many kids out there who has this motto of “I do what my hero does”
    If you think about it, how many of them could kill how many people on the road?

  24. Eric Weinraub says:

    I am so darn sick of this baby sitting mentality. The LAW deals with speeding NOT the FIA. Time for ALL pro athletes to push back on their sanctioning bodies to stay the hell out of their private lives.

    1. N. Machiavelli says:

      “Time for ALL pro athletes to push back on their sanctioning bodies to stay the hell out of their private lives.”

      When the drivers are on PUBLIC ROADS, their conduct
      on those roads is subject to scrutiny just as yours or mine
      is. Are you unable to understand this ?

    2. DerangedStoat says:

      The sanctioning bodies would all probably be quite happy to, if only the media would…

  25. wayne says:

    status of a role model champion ?

    i am not debating the importance of saving lives but what about the people that die of alcohol related problems, next they will be penalised if they are caught binge drinking on thier time off (or caught performing acts with a blow up dolphin)

    better education, better standards on driving tests (including a mandatory motorway section in order to pass tests)along with improved car design as well as better funding for improved road saftey are vital, but blaming lewis for deliberatly breaking traction…..

    secondly what about drink drivers, drivers with no licience or insurance, how about rather than slapping the f1 drivers wrists here is a thought…. throw the book at the guilty idiots that get caught by the cops and have almost no punishment or sentence ?

    we are one step away from a nanny state that continualy micro manages the genuine tax paying public and ignores the problem people.

  26. Calixto says:

    This is silly and invasive. The FIA should watch them on the track ONLY, police and other public services watch them off of it.

    Anything beyond that is just trying to find some publicity for itself.

  27. JohnBt says:

    To be fair it’s not about Lewis but a professional racing driver, coulda been anyone of them. Many just didn’t get caught. But of course, with their skills chances of an accident will be very rare. More points gained for Todt on this issue, but not totally right.

  28. Andrew Murdoch says:

    Some years ago Michael Schumacher had to do ‘community service’ for the championship deciding incident with Villeneuve in 1997. He had to work on the FIA road safety campaign.

    I could see something to that working, maybe if you get points on your road license you have do some similar kind of community service with the FIA.

    If you are Schumacher or Hamilton then you could do some PR work, if you are someone less well known maybe some filing :p

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s a cracking idea

    2. malcolm.strachan says:

      Best comment yet. 100% agreed.

      Getting a driver to do PR would likely yield much more in terms of driver safety than a simple one-race ban.

    3. monktonnik says:

      This is absolutely correct.

    4. Spyros says:

      Good idea, but it could backfire, if it attracts comments like “The F1 people who promote road safety are those who don’t take it seriously.”

  29. Brace says:

    Only thing that could make road accidents almost nonexistent is people stop being stupid and start driving safely.
    They don’t need to crawl, they just need to be responsible.
    The number of accidents caused by dangerous and negligent driving is probably around 99%.

  30. Spyros says:

    Really? Burnouts?

    I honestly don’t mean to start a debate, but I’d be happy to drive behind Lewis while he’s ripping his tyres to shreds. Come to think of it, I’d be happier behind Button doing it, but I suppose that this is unlikely..

  31. Rich C says:

    No, its a silly-ass “mission” the FIA is on anyway.

    To reduce traffic deaths you need functioning, non-corrupt local law enforcement people, and laws that the society obeys. In the 3rd world places I have been- and I’ve been to a *lot – none of these things exist.

    So the FIA has appointed itself in loco parentis in these poor, corrupt, little places?

    G/L with that.

  32. Todt is clearly on the right step! When children misbehave, there should be consequences and when F1 drivers misbehave it only exhibits a lack of respect for others. There should be consequences for that as well. “Exuberence” is no excuse for endangering others.

  33. Liam says:

    I don’t think that a drivers behaviour away from the track should impact their status within the sport unless they do something that is really inexcusable and dangerous – Hamilton did a little powerslide from what I can gather and he was no doubt in complete control of the car… I don’t see the problem?

    Rules are rules and the relevant laws should govern them, not the sport. Another point to mention, F1 drivers usually get off quite lightly for traffic offences and there’s a reason for it as far as I’m concerned.. Generally laws are in place to keep everyone safe and in control… An F1 driver being a bit flamboyant in a road car is unlikely to endanger anyone.

    1. Prof Bolshaviks says:

      Lewis crashed a go-kart doing 30, that was on a track. Back in 2007. So I don’t see why he should be unable to crash a Merc on the streets.
      Anyone doing something irresponsible is risking other people’s lives.
      On the track, fine everyone around has signed up for the danger, but on the streets? There is no excuse.

  34. tobi-wan says:

    It’s an honourable intention from Todt, but stopping someone like LH from doing a burnout will not save 5 million lives.
    I’ll wager the death toll will increase globally as more developed nations increase their car use.
    More F1 PR we can do without.

  35. sandy says:

    It all makes sense

  36. Rich C says:

    Completely off-subject – theres a virtual LeMans race game starting at RaceMyDay.com that might be fun.
    I play their virtual sailing race games and they are totally addictive.

  37. GP says:

    If I’m not mistaken, every country’s ASN requires drivers to show a valid driver’s license when registering for any event that is sanctioned by the FIA through that country’s ASN.
    I don’t see why it should be different for F1 drivers.

    By the way, anybody remember an F1 driver being involved in a road car accident?

  38. Prof Bolshaviks says:

    Seems to me that this is a good thing.
    It is like putting a “Don’t try this at home” banner up.
    Taxi drivers, delivery people etc. If they lose their license, they lose their jobs. The same should apply to F1.
    Or to make a different idea, if a driver is banned from driving in a specific country, they should be banned from racing in that country.

  39. rv says:

    The wording on the poll illustrates the vagueness of the FIA directive, it is too broad.

    “Should an F1 driver’s racing licence be linked to his behaviour on the roads?”

    what type of behaviour? Driving under the influence? yes… Speeding? depends where and by how much… in a school zone going @ 90km or on a highway going 150km?

    Since FIA is a commercial endeavor as much as a sport, and image is important, drivers should be savvy enough to behave themselves appropriately while actively involved in the sport. FIA should educate the drivers on the importance of demonstrating up good examples of road safety and not punitively punish them for driving offenses.

    -R

  40. Richard D says:

    Perhaps someone should ask Frank Williams what he thinks of all this.

    1. malcolm.strachan says:

      Harsh, but completely valid point.

  41. David Ryan says:

    I can see how this one would divide opinion, but personally I think it’s quite a good idea. Like it or not, racing drivers generally are role models to other people because they are in the public domain and have reached a status many dream of but few attain. I take Charles Barkley’s point but when you consider that they gain many benefits from the exposure it brings, to my mind they can’t complain about the consequences at the same time. No one forced them to become elite sportsmen, after all.

    A more important racing-specific issue is that ultimately the road is not a race track, and the drivers should recognise that fact and abide by it. To adopt a contrary position is bordering on hypocrisy, particularly when a number of drivers have endorsed the “Make Roads Safe” campaign. While I’m not sure Lewis’ indictment really warrants much in the way of additional penalty, I think it is something worth considering.

    On the F1 driver being in a road car incident, I do seem to recall a certain Mr Schumacher having an unfortunate prang in a Fiat van…

  42. Adrian says:

    My other half is a Doctor, she is expected to maintain a high standard outside of work and if she were to get a criminal record for something that is not even related to her work, then she could face being summoned in front of the GMC…

    …if that is the case for doctors, who are not in the public eye. Why should it be any different for professional racing drivers who get paid millions to have the privilege to drive very fast for a living?

    I agree with Jean Todt on this one, personally I would make it a condition of having a super-license that you do not incur any driving related charges in any jurisdiction.

    1. malcolm.strachan says:

      Engineers in Canada are much the same; as professionals, they are expected to act as such, and if they are found guilty of misconduct, their licence is revoked.

      “(j) conduct or an act relevant to the practice of professional engineering that, having regard to all the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by the engineering profession as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional,” (Professional Engineers Act, Ontario, Canada)

      If racing drivers are professionals, I see no reason why they should not be held to the same standards. Of course, going 2 km/h over the speed limit should result in a 3-race ban… just the same as going 100 mph over the speed limit should result in a penalty of some sort.

    2. Liam says:

      You can’t compare a doctor to an F1 driver… A doctor has a duty of care to all patients and have to be 100% trustworthy in every respect in order to successfully fulfil their role. An F1 driver doesn’t have that responsibility – Their job is to go as fast as possible and that is it.

      People say they are role models… so what? Looking up to someone doesn’t mean you have to copy everything they do. I look up to pretty much the whole F1 grid… Button got caught in France doing i think 140mph but I wouldn’t do the same and if I did that wouldn’t be Button’s fault, it’d be mine.

      People need to take responsibility for their own actions. Punishing F1 drivers within the sport for driving offences on public roads wouldn’t save any lives at all.

      Stupid people will always do stupid things.

  43. malcolm.strachan says:

    I agree with Jean Todt, but only conditionally.

    If a driver marginally exceeds the speed-limit, then they should not be punished by the FIA; however, if the charge/offense is moderate or extreme (greater than 25 km/h over the speed limit, or any source of demerit points, etc), then there should be sanctions.

    The idea above to do PR work as punishment is definitely an excellent idea, but that only serves its purpose so well for moderate offenses. If a driver does something extreme, such as going 100 km/h over the speed-limit and then crashing into a house, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then bans should definitely be handed out.

    These drivers are professionals, and should act as such; furthermore, if they commit an offense, the punishment should fit the crime.

  44. Alexis says:

    So Todt is planning on having the WRC with no drivers next year then?

    Since when have the likes of Loeb, Makkinen or Ari Vatanen for that matter ever stuck the speed limits travelling between WRC rally stages?

    And do we seriously think Todt has never sped in one of his Ferrraris????

  45. Baz says:

    I live near the Chelsea FC training ground and often see kids hanging around for hours at the entrance hoping to catch a glimpse and get an autograph from their football heroes. How these players conduct themselves on and off the pitch have a huge influence on many young people. Sadly in football the powers that be don’t seem to be doing much about it, IMO.

    The road stats make scary reading. Although I don’t blame F1 drivers for this I do support Jean Todt’s stance in encouraging F1 drivers to realise their responsibility outside of F1.

    Whether sports people like it or not they are seen by many as role models. Personally I would rather look elsewhere for my role models, but there you have it.

  46. Grabyrdy says:

    I think we all know that most accidents are not caused by breaking speed limits by 5 or 10 or 20 mph, but by inattention and lack of concentration. Most situations you meet on the road are avoidable if you’re concentrating and reading the traffic situation as far ahead as possible. Speed limits, and most other traffic laws are pretty blunt instruments for controlling what drivers do ; their main attraction is that they make people think something is being done, and they also raise rather a lot of money.

    Getting after F1 drivers for going a bit fast, or pretending to lose control of their cars to give the fans a buzz, seems a pretty tawdry way of giving credence to this make-believe system.

  47. Joe says:

    Hamilton should now better as a role mode. He’s a typical english sheep.shagger but hopefully he will not do it again

  48. Anthony says:

    Hamilton was accused of “intentionally lose control of a car”, not for speeding….

    but c’mon, HOW can you “INTENTIONALLY LOSE” control of a car… if its intentionally then you didnt lose the control… if you lost control then it was not intentionally….

  49. murray says:

    Todt’s humming ‘If I ruled the world’ to himself in the mirror as he shaves. He might even go ahead and do it, but delivering a secondary penalty (and given the FIA’s proven history of arbitrary hissyfits) after a country’s civil authorities have had their way isn’t going to connect the FIA with delivering road safety in any meaningful way in anyone else’s head but his.

  50. N. Machiavelli says:

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    I think F1 drivers driving a bit over the speed limit on the roads should not be a huge problem, because they can drive well and they will certainly be driving a first class car. However, I think things like ‘burnouts’ or ‘doughnuts’ are childish conduct and should not be performed on public roads by ANYONE, whether he holds an FIA Super License or not. It is a question of “there is a time and place which is or is not appropriate”.

    From another angle, there are the examples of Mike Hailwood, Mike Hawthorn, and Frank Williams. Two of these men died in road accidents, and the third now uses a wheelchair. So the idea that a skilled driver will not come to harm is quite obviously false, as these examples show.
    ( I am aware that in one or more of the above cases the driver mentioned was not at fault, but my point is that his
    skill could not save him ).

    In the end, I believe the F1 drivers should NOT be above the law, and if they are caught breaking the law they should be punished like the rest of us, because the public roads are NOT a playground for irresponsible conduct.

    Having said that, Todt’s campaign is “public relations” pure and simple, and will serve no one in terms on increasing road safety.

    Further, speed limits alone do NOT create safety, and only
    a simple-minded fool would believe this could be true. Driving safely requires both skill and judgement, and speed alone does not create danger.

    There is a saying among aircraft pilots :

    “The superior pilot uses his superior judgement to avoid
    needing to use his superior skill”.

    If you want to drive very fast, do it on the track. Race driving belongs on the TRACK, period. And it’s great fun,
    as well as being a good learning experience.

  51. Nick F says:

    Are race car drivers statistically more or less likely to do something stupid on the road?

    I may be wrong, but I assume on average that it is less likely because they get their kicks from racing. I heard Lewis in a recentish interview say that he doesn’t really drive that fast on the road because he doesn’t need the thrill.

    [yes yes I know he got done for speeding that one time. my point still stands though. ;-) ]

  52. Paul Kirk says:

    I haven’t read any posts above, but I will in a few minutes, but I feel so strongly about the above subject that I’m putting my dollar fifty’s worth in now. My advice, if you wish to reduce some of the carnage on the roads that occurs with young people, then ban TV coverage of the new craze of “drifting”, I know it’s easy to cover, and can be quite exciting and entertaining, but many of the spectators get the urge to go out and practice it, and on the same roads that we and our children are driving on, ( and our parents and grandparents). I have quite close contact with youthfull drivers, and Ive noticed to my horror that many of them practice drifting on the roads these days, and build and modify cars espesially for it, but it was very rare prior to the advent of this new entertainment colled “drifting”. So make it less high profile, don’t show it on TV, and make it clear that on the first offence, the offender’s vehicle will be consfisicated with no chance of claiming it back!!! While you’re about it you could ban all the kid’s cartoons that show that sort of behaviour!!! And here in NZ, ban people under the age of 25 from driving modifyed cars as daily drivers. And make them have to have, say, at least 50% of the price of a car they want to buy as deposit in cash before being able to buy it. And limit the engine size till a certain age unless certain skills can be proven, eg have had circuit racing or rallying experience and club membership with competition licence, etc.
    Well, I reckon thats worth at least $1.50, and I feel a lot better now I’ve got it off my chest!!
    PK.

  53. Not in the slightest. Grand Prix have to be about the battle on the track, however much the FiA want to meddle. Of course the drivers should behave on the roads, and the courts are there if they don’t, but it’s ridiculous to suggest it should impact on the sport.

  54. Thalasa says:

    I agree with anything that has to do with stopping people from behaving stupidly in public roads. I’m a very conscious and prudent driver and I do so as a way to show respect for others. A car can be a lethal weapon. It is a very serious thing.

    Nonetheless I would also say that Hamilton seems to be more rigorously judge upon by the public than other drivers, which is unfair.

  55. Sterling Mindenhall says:

    If most of these deaths are happening in the developing world, then there’s little Todt (or anyone else) is going to be able to do about it, other than through highly gradual, and very indirect, means.

    Having driven for years in developing countries, there are some constants I’ve noticed:

    1. The crash-worthiness of the vehicles is uniformly atrocious for all but the wealthiest of people. That will improve over time, but it’ll take a long time to happen, and the economy will need to have such a surplus for the average person that people will justify buying a more expensive car. And however much they improve, their cars will always lag the ever-increasing safety margins of average first-world vehicles. This has nothing to do with Ham’s Great Hooning Debacle of 2010.

    2. Most of the deaths I saw (or heard of) were due to car-pedestrian incidents, and none were due to the driver having fun with his car. It’s usually the tragic (but completely obvious) result of incredibly high population densities, vehicles that neither stop nor turn well, generally chaotic traffic patterns, etc. I’d like to see the stats of Death by Hooning by country, per capita. Guessing the statistical significance isn’t even there to compile the data. This has nothing to do with Ham’s Great Hooning Debacle of 2010.

    3. The medical care given the injured is much worse in the third world, and is often completely unavailable. In fact, I heard of one case of a public transit driver backing over a little girl to finish her off after accidentally hitting, lest her possible recovery end this guy’s only means of supporting his (very hungry) family. Those who do have access to hospitals rarely have the money for real treatment, and the hospitals themselves are often tragically incapable of doing much more than very basic procedures. This has nothing to do with Ham’s Great Hooning Debacle of 2010.

    I could go on. License tests are generally much easier, aren’t kept up, etc. People in the developing world don’t tend to view death as the Worst Possible Outcome. We’ll write a thousand laws before we’ll let anyone die. They’re too busy trying to survive to absorb the added bloat of the attorneys, lawmakers, and policing required to support such a society. Heck, the drivers rarely even wore seat belts. Why? Uncomfortable, and, you know, if God says it’s your time to die, that seat belt’s going to do nothing. This may sound incredibly tangential, but don’t underestimate the power of widely-held priorities.

    To think that third-world drivers are following the off-track antics of F1 drivers and patterning their driving habits after them is to completely misunderstand the issues at hand.

    I’ve liked Todt’s management of the FIA thus far, but this is just stupid. Whoever originally thought that racing drivers should become the poster boys of road safety was, frankly, an idiot. It’s bad for the image of the sport (like anyone expects men who should be gladiators to obey posted speed limits that are frequently ridiculous), it’s bad for the drivers, bad for the sponsors, and is all too reflective of the overly sanitized state of modern motor sports.

    Frankly, the FIA should be there to handle the sporting regulations aspect of F1, and nothing more. Even then, I think that’s a little bit of a stretch. If the American Automobile Association attempted to run NASCAR in a similar means as the FIA, it’d last all of thirty seconds. The lunacy of having Vehicle Dynamics Expert Max Mosley dream up technical regulations is something everyone seemed to miss when we went back to slick tires. But, I digress.

    1. Paul Kirk says:

      Beautifully put, Stirling, and I don’t mind if you “digress”, I enjoy listening who has a person who has a clear thought on a subject! BTW, I agree with all your comments!!!
      PK.

  56. Shingie says:

    If you ask me, I think Todt is off on the worng foot. His job as FIA president should be more concerrned with safety of the drivers ON THE TRACK, because off the track drivers are governed by the same rules that govern the rest of us.. eg Lewis Hamilton

    He should focus more on encouraging technological innovations in F1, like going faster, cheaper and safer. Road cars now do 200Mph easily these days, F1 cars should be racing at 250 mph plus by todays standards. After all F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing, right?

  57. Sterling Mindenhall says:

    Also, FTA: “Hamilton has been charged with deliberately losing control of a vehicle”. I wonder if he considered challenging that (if that is indeed the language used in the charge). Wheel spin does not inherently mean the loss of control of a vehicle. There may be very high rates of correlation, but wheel spin is not a sufficient condition for loss of control.

    I’m sure he just wants to let the bad press blow over, but that’s a bit of an absurd claim that he lost control of it.

  58. Alex says:

    I don’t see how one would judge drivers’ behaviour on the road. Policing of the roads is so heavily influenced by local politics i.e. popularity, not necessarily wisdom. Local authorities might heavily punish something, that would elsewhere receive no attention at all, or even applause.

    If one suggests that the law should be rigidly obeyed (although I personally am not 100% comfortable with that), then so should its prescribed punishments; they should not be embellished.

    If one were to propose that judgement of a driver’s conduct be independent of the law, then the only fair way of doing things would be to have all the drivers under permanent observation; an absurd notion.

    All that said, I do think that any drivers who were so inclined could help promote road safety. Not in terms of encouraging people to rigidly obey nominal rules, but by encouraging general good practice. For instance, they could remind people not to smoke, drink, or use the ‘phone while driving, or they could spread the word about advanced observational techniques. An intelligent approach to driving would almost certainly result in safer and more efficient travel, than mindless adherence to ever more prescriptive rules.

  59. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Surely, drink driving should be higlighted more than speeding.

    If the FIA is worried about sending out the wrong message to fans on F1 personnel behaviour then why are they letting Flavio come back after being caught out as a cheat?!!

    1. TM says:

      Don’t think that’s through choice; their ruling got overturned!

  60. Jonathan says:

    I find it incredible just how many are saying Todt is wrong.

    Personally I feel that some of the speed restrictions imposed on public roads are all but criminally foolish – like making the last few miles into London 40mph all night long. We need traffic to be kept moving and should have far more variable speed limits like the M25.

    Back to this specific topic: Practically every “professional sport” has a requirement that its participants will not bring their sport into disrepute. Sadly far too few sports actually go anywhere near applying this rule effectively. For an F1 driver deliberately flaunting rules of the road definitely counts as such – do not forget they get fined/ penalised for speeding in the pit lane!

    So Todt is spot on.

    Having said that I fail to see how anyone who has seen Lewis driving close by could argue that he lost control of his car when stopped by police. His car control is awesome to watch and very precise! You can bet most F1 drivers would prefer to be cornering at speeds in excess of 150mph alongside Lewis in preference to Vettel… especially Webber!

  61. Aussie John says:

    Generally I agree with M. Todt. However, I cannot agree that sportspeople are role models-look at some footballers (and Australian cricketers). But if they are going to support a road safety program, then they must be careful in their driving. However, what did Hamilton do? He wasn’t speeding, was he?
    The law in Victoria inter alia defines “hoon driving” such that harsh acceleration making the tyres squeal is an offence. It also encompasses driving well over the speed limit, and street racing (which it was originally designed to catch).
    What you and I would regard as acceptable in isolation is caught by overzealous officers.

    It is my understanding that Lewis was not speeding, and that there was no danger to anyone, only that he spun the wheels/induced tyre sqeal.
    I’m happy to be corrected.

  62. Dale says:

    This really is a joke, is Todt slowly liking his power and letting it go to his head just as Mosley did? – Remember he wasn’t always the power freak he became.

    The truth is there are probably NO drivers who don’t speed at some time and as others have said a lot of the speed limits are just silly.

    Although up till this and Todt’s sudden announcement that the tyres are nothing to do with the teams (after all it’s only the teams that drive on them and design their cars around them so what do they know)?

    Road safety has nothing to do with F1, get back in your box Todt and just leave F1 alone.

  63. Mike says:

    It’s quite a simple… Local/national government legislation is responsible for issuing licences to drivers to drive on the public roads which is regulated by the police and judicial courts system of that country. The FIA have only jurisdiction over licences issued for racing and no right to sanction racing drivers for offences committed on public roads.

    The only plausible reason for the FIA to sanction any individual would be if that person were accused of bringing the sport into disrepute. In which case, Max Mosely, Nelson Piquet Jr and Flavio Briatore spring to mind far quicker than any minor public motoring offence by a driver in F1 or other series.

  64. Leroy Butts says:

    To all those people saying “what he does outside of racing, shouldn’t effect his superlicence” – is just rubbish . .

    I used to work on the Port where I live, I was a heavy machinery operator for nearly 10 years . . A few years back, I lost my licence outside of the Port – I also lost my job

    My Boss said “if you’re not responsible enough to drive within the law, we can’t have you working here” – and I agreed with him

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