Jean Todt, who guided Ferrari’s F1 team to it’s greatest era of success, with 13 world championships in the period from 1999 to 2007, has stepped down from all his administrative roles at the company, Ferrari has just announced at a shareholders’ meeting.
“Todt has been one of the fundamental protagonists of the Ferrari story in the last 15 years, ” said Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo. ” All these years together, the wins but also the difficult moments, have created a bond between Ferrari and Todt which will last for ever.”
Todt (63) arrived at Maranello in 1993 to revive the fortunes of a racing team which had lost its direction, its self respect and it’s ability to win races. It took him a while to turn the ship around, but by 1997, with the hiring of Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne, they were fighting for the world title. Three years in a row they cam up short, although they did clinch the 1999 constructors crown and then in 2000 came the breakthrough as Schumacher won the first drivers’ title for the Scuderia since 1979. Four more followed in an era of dominance. Todt oversaw a total of 98 wins for Ferrari.
Todt was quite a devisive figure in F1, proving the oil to Ron Dennis’ water. In 2006 he became general manager of the whole of Ferrari, including road cars and he stepped down as team principal at the end of 2007 after seeing Kimi Raikkonen carry on where Schumacher left off.
Todt’s ‘win at all costs mentality’ aligned with Schumacher’s and this led to some of the most controversial moments in recent F1 history, the ultimate being the decision to switch Barrichello and Schumacher so that the latter could win the Austrian Grand Prix of 2002, a move which led to a huge fine for Ferrari and the banning of team orders in F1.