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One-term Todt reveals his “passion” to get things done
One-term Todt reveals his “passion” to get things done
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Feb 2010   |  4:39 pm GMT  |  61 comments

Three months into his tenure as FIA president, a period in which he has kept a low profile and got on with work behind the scenes to restructure the FIA and put new policies in place, Jean Todt has broken cover and started to talk about his agenda for office and the things he wants to get done. He said that he took on the unpaid role of FIA president because of his “passion” for the motoring and motor sport.

Yesterday at a small gathering of media in Paris he spoke about controlling costs, the possibility of new team “no-shows’ at Grands Prix this year, his desire to see F1 teams embrace the environmental concerns of the real world and the idea of licences for team bosses, as discussed here on JA on F1 in the wake of the Renault crash scandal.

He also confirmed that he will stand for just one term as president, unlike his predecessor, Max Mosley.

His words on new teams would appear to rule out the possibility of Stefan GP getting an entry in the near future, even if one of the other new teams were to fail. And although Stefan has sent a container of equipment out to Bahrain, the earliest the team might get to race would be China, because of the new agreement permitting three “no shows”. Todt confirmed that this had been agreed at the last World Council meeting. Bernie Ecclestone said at the weekend that he doubted whether Campos or USF1 were going to make it.

Todt said, “In the final version of the Concorde Agreement it’s written that a team may be absent for three races. But if a team can’t go on, it’s not a given that another team comes in. It’s up to the FIA to decide who has the requisites.”

Stefan GP boss Zoran Stefanovic challenged the FIA over its selection process for new teams and although he appears to enjoy the support of Bernie Ecclestone, there are clearly some political hurdles for it to overcome.

“We will have 13 teams,” said Todt. “Three new ones, a Sauber team which is returning to its origins, Virgin, Lotus. A Renault team which has different shareholders. It will be an interesting season. What has surprised me the most from testing has been the reliability of all the teams. Once they used to break suspensions and gearboxes, now they don’t.”

Todt is preparing the ground at the moment for taking the sport towards a greener agenda, something Mosley was keen to achieve too. It’s a big and urgent responsibility and it needs to be handled carefully. Mosley saw KERS as a way to give F1 relevance to the motor industry and society as a whole, by making it the laboratory and proving ground of future technologies. Todt has a wide ranging brief as FIA president and it’s clear that he doesn’t plan to spend too much of his time on F1. But as the FIA’s most high profile activity and one which has some issues to resolve, he has some strong views on what is needed,

“The future is new technology; it’s not acceptable to have given up with KERS,” he said. “The teams complain that it costs too much? Then they must find the way to save money. The teams are sensitive when we talk about lap times, less sensitive when the environment is discussed. We need to cut costs, improve the show and draw investors. F1 must understand that the world has changed. How can you explain that an F1 car needs 80 litres of fuel to cover 100 kilometres? And fans don’t care if a team spends €50 million or €5 million.”

Todt said he favours getting costs under control by clarifying the rules, rather than imposing budget caps. For example, he would like to see the introduction of one aerodynamic update only per season. This time last year, the teams, via FOTA, proposed something similar although they were talking about a maximum of three updates per season. That never came to fruition and instead some teams are planning to bring something new to every race, within the limitations on manpower and hours in the windtunnel set out in the Resource Restriction Agreement. Clearly the requirements of Monaco on the one hand and Monza on the other would mean that striking the right compromise would be a challenge.

The Renault Singapore scandal highlighted the risks of team bosses and key decision makers not being under the jurisdiction of the FIA as they do not hold licences, unlike drivers. When the FIA lost the case in the civil courts in January we discussed the possibility of key men being made to become licence holders and it now seems that, having reviewed the lessons of the Singapore scandal, Todt plans to push ahead with this initiative,

“I will put forward the idea that team managers should also have to hold licences,” he said.

Todt, 64, also indicated that he will serve just one term as FIA president as he still has other ambitions in his life,

“Everyone has his own style: 16 years at the helm are too many, it’s crazy. No, I’m doing a single mandate; otherwise I wouldn’t have time to do other things anymore.”

He added that the job is just as stressful as heading up the race teams at Peugeot and Ferrari but that, “There I was well paid for it, here I’m not. I do it because of passion and to make a contribution to a sector and a sport I love.”

The next thing to come out of the FIA soon will be the identity of the new F1 commissioner. Todt has restructured the FIA and the motor sport administration will largely be run out of Switzerland, where the F1 commissioner will be based.

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I must be missing something, JT is seems to think that 9+2+13…

“We will have 13 teams,” said Todt. “Three new ones, a Sauber team which is returning to its origins, Virgin, Lotus.

ok, 9 established teams (Including Sauber), plus Virgin and Lotus. =13???? I make that 11, since he is obviously not confident about Campos or USF1…

Even is all the new teams were to arrive. lest count.. Virgin, 1, Lotus, 2, Campos, 3, USF1, um…. 4???


I thought that too, but maybe it is a subtle way of suggesting that Lotus is linked to the team of the past…


All this chat about environmental issues is just PR BS. If they want F1 to be greener they would just require all attendance at the events to be by carpool or mass transit. That’d do more for their stupid carbon footprint than anything they could ever do to the race cars!

And the frequent remarks here relating F1 to road cars are just silly. I would bet that 90% of road car activity happens in the 30-50 mph range. So I frankly doubt that anything “technical” that enables a race car to exceed 200 mph really has any application to road cars. For example how many road cars do you see with the myriad of splitters, flippers, slots, slats and all those little aero ‘thingies’ sticking out all over?

Its genetic – people will race anything that’ll move. So give up trying to make F1 ‘relavent’ and just *race dammit!


James, what do you figure to be the average age of an F1 fan, or even the avg. age of fans of your website?

The reason I ask this is because it is my theory that those who complain most about potential changes to F1 have been fans of the sport for many years (as am I). It’s like the people who grew up loving the original Star Wars films, but hated the next Star Wars trilogy 20 years later: too many changes to the beloved original formula that grabbed their attention in the first place.

F1 is like that. If I was a kid today, with all the new extreme sports and exciting marketing campaigns they have, I’d more than likely think F1 sucks. The fact it’s run by someone’s riduculous looking Grandad would be a sure sign it is totally uncool. F1 seems to be coasting on the laurels it earned decades ago.

I think we all can agree that the petrol F1 uses is a grain of sand on the beach compared to global consumption. But how insignificant is that grain of sand to a new generation who don’t give a damn about F1’s pedigree or claims to the title of world’s most advanced motorsport?

If F1 is to keep that title (and grab new fans who don’t know their Schumacher from their Senna), perhaps more transparency as to where all that money is being spent is in order. Surely rules can be created to reward clever engineering that is both efficient energy wise but also spending wise. Just a couple ideas from an old(er) F1 fan, (a possibly dying breed?).


No idea – maybe the fan survey will tell us. I do know that they have a problem with getting kids and under 18s to watch F1, something some sponsors are unhappy about


Hard to understand. They spend every dime they have on the things they like.


Hi James,

Love your work first time on your blog. This whole no re-fuleing presents a very good opportunity for the FIA to make F1 very relevent. So if carrying more fule is a disadvantage because of the weight penalty, if they remove the engine freeze but still cap power then the focus will turn to economy. A car that can start with 50kg less fuel than another will be a massive advantage. Also as Bridgestone is leaving it opens further possibiity to open it up to emerging tyre technology (low friction etc) leading to many more engineering loop holes and possibilities to “push the envelope” (and hopefully some decent racing).

Love the blog, very cool…


I like this idea. Now that, thank goodness, refueling is banned, they should each year decrease the amount of fuel allowed for a race. KERS in F1 was flawed because, although the technology could be transferred to road cars to improve fuel economy, it was not about fuel economy in F1; it was about push-to-pass. The FIA should say “ok, we don’t care whether or not you use KERS (or similar), but whatever happens, each year we’re going to decrease the amount of fuel you’re allowed”. The teams would be forced to drastically improve fuel economy.

Of course this won’t happen with the FOTA love-in.


Welcome… and thanks


Licenses for key personnel? Another attempt to be able to dismiss players arbitrarily, without the inconvenience of legal appeals or substantial justification. Excommunication is so convenient. The FIA should only be answerable to God!


Well, I hope he does well but…

I still keep hearing about costs must be cut, but have NEVER seen any compelling reason this is true.

As for the green agenda- if this is purely a public relations move, I guess I can see why he may think it is required. If it is through some idea that motor racing can be green, then it is totally misguided.

As for fuel consumption- who the heck cares? Why the heck should F1 or motor racing in general have justify their existence to anyone?


How much notice do a team need to give if they intend to do a ‘no show’?


“The future is new technology; it’s not acceptable to have given up with KERS,” he said. “The teams complain that it costs too much? Then they must find the way to save money. The teams are sensitive when we talk about lap times, less sensitive when the environment is discussed.”

In my (probably wrong) guesstimates KERS saves maybe a 3-5% fuel per race. Hardly the pinnacle of green motorsporting.

There are simpler ways to achieve an equivalent carbon footprint reduction per GP.

1. reduce race distance by 3-5%. Instant results zero cost.

2. measure fuel consumption per engine, allow motorists to evolve their engines as they wish (sticking to V8 2400cc) as long as as they can prove a decrease of fuel consumption of 5%. Engine manufacturers would love this.

3. Decrease max. rpm limit to achieve said fuel redution.

4. Free fuel technical rules during one winter, but make fuels more efficient and less polluting, then freeze each supplier’s composition.

5. drop 1 GP from the calendar (singapore). Fans would hate it but hey presto F1 uses 5% less petrol per season, no artificial lights, no fans turning up for the race in fossil fuel-hungry cars, planes…

suggestions 1,3,4 and 5 are zero cost to the teams.

I believe suggestion 2 would be welcomed by the teams as the cost resides with the engine manufacturers and the cost would be spread among the client teams, same as the benefits.

FIA want to promote green technologies in street cars. I don’t see the point either, specially at the teams’ expenses. Can anyone see the next twingo, clio, mercedes A class, bmw 1, boasting of a KERS system? Nor can I, not to mention the decrease in MPG due to carrying around heavy batteries while doing the school run (batteries that eventually need replacing at owner’s cost)?


As a once highly vociferous anti Todt man, I am optimistically looking forward to my humble pie. He is giving every impression of being very good news for F1, long overdue after the deeply harmful traumas of the Mad Max’s reign.

The pointless, vastly expensive Green posturing needs binning pronto. F1 is the ultimate form of Motorsport, the last thing it needs is castrating by the Eco Luvvies. If you really care about poor little Petrocarbons being pointlessly burnt due to the Sport, you would surely start by banning spectators driving or flying to the races, that would save so much more….


That’s a bit naive. There’s a lot of contradictions in the environmental debate, but one thing is for sure – doing nothing will make F1 look like an out-of-touch, and eventually socially unacceptable, pasttime. Surely we want to prolong the life of the sport we love. Change is inevitable, because a tipping point amongst the public, and therefore the sponsors and manufacturers, will be reached eventually.


The reason we have all these “green initiatives” in f1 is because this is the major reason that manufacturers no longer see f1 as a viable method of promoting their name and brands. If you think that these small measures are going to change that perspective you are sadly wrong, it will still be totally unacceptable to this view. All you are doing is down grading a product that will see it lose it’s present customer base, to appeal to a customer base that does not want it in any form.

Take any major sporting and recreational attraction, then consider the fuel used by all the cars in a f1 race and the imbalance that brings, hardly significant. If Bernie would cut out the night races, you may even have an edge over some events. Extending this, you could have rock concerts with dimmed lighting and the sound turned down.

Trying to promote f1 as a proving ground for green technology is a misnomer. Toyota the world leader in energy recovery, already stated that f1 KERS would have a minimal take over into their standard products. As for fuel economy, that can be done many orders of magnitude more efficiently on a test bed. This is akin to dressing up pit bulls as poodles and showing them at Cruff’s to make them socially acceptable, it just will not wash for anyone with limited intelligence.


It’s not about intelligence, it’s about perception – which is rarely arrived at through a thorough factual analysis.

My feelings are that if F1 is seen to be doing nothing at all, it is sticking its head out and eventually it will get shot off. You might be right in that the measures talked about are ‘token’, but rightly or wrongly it’s the way these things seem to work.


Exactly. What does anyone in the FIA believe they will achieve by trying to tie in f1 into the green aspect. The cars could have the fuel consumption of a moped and that would have such an insignificant amount to the overall issue. All you will end up doing is make the sport unattractive to it’s existing fanbase, to pander towards those that are not interested in any form. Maybe we can have the BP pedal challenge as a warm up, rather than GP2?

But Todt has been a breath of fresh air otherwise. A bit worried that Todt will only do one term with so many of the dungeon masters allies still having their feet under the table.


Ron Dennis had the best idea so far for managing costs.

His idea is to feeze the FIA…

If the FIA stopped changing the rules willy nilly, the teams could start reducing costs over time… smaller teams could catch up to the major players with enough time.

Keeping the rules static, has to be the best and most simple way of cutting costs in the long term…

Most of the FIA changes are attempts at fire fighting and nothing else… none of the changes under Max Mosely have contributed to reduction in costs, or worse, improving the event…

The less the FIA interefere, the better for all.


football, basketball, tennis, tabletennis you neme it have kept stable regs for at least 50 years. is golf a sport? same applies. the fear of FIA/ bernie is stable regs will lead to predictable results, they need to go out and watch some other sports


Todt has certainly made some press releases but not actually changed the rules.

Why no action on team owners/principles etc requiring superlicences, even the stewards require superlicences.

He is proceeding like a well known UK government, lots of talk and ideas pandering to the press, but no action.


I think Todt should change the FIA constitution so that no FIA president can be in office for more than 2 terms.


That would be a good thing, allowing one re-election only, this concept exists in a lot different political systems…

Saying that he is only going for one term will make Todt a “lame duck” president very early, so I do not think it was a very wise thing to say, maybe it was just a reaction to MM 16 years….


Lame duck??? seriously? that statement made him a lot of powerful friends. Namely everyone with ambition to become next president @ next election called him today just to say hi.


The most exciting way to make F1 greener is to free up the regulations concerning the drivetrain, but impose a maximum fuel consumption (in practice: maximum volume of fuel for the race). This is easily policed and can be reduced year on year to maintain innovation. We could see a disparate range of solutions to the problem of efficiency in this manner (KERS, heat recovery systems, turbocharging, combinations of the 3…). The technologies would be refined in F1 and have direct relevance to road cars.

Fans can easily see the difference betwen $5million and $50m… if F1 becomes cheaper than other forms of motorsport it will clear.

F1 does not have to become cheap, just profitable (look at football…). By making the money invested into F1 teams yield technologies directly relevant to road car manufacturers you allow this. The F1 team is a combined R&D/marketing project.


interesting but flawed, as i said above there are only a few car manufacturers left in the sport.

why sould be the rest of the teams become involved in a green series?

Is rallying green? karting? Dakkar? gp2?

NASCAR? LOL. Motorsport, as human society since the industrial revolution, is not green just wake up to it


well i was pretty anti-Todt to begin with but now he seens to have the best interests of the sport at heart and has already said that he’s not planning on embarking on a manaical extended rule. jolly good show so far, but it has to be said that against the backdrop of the Mosley years, anything would look like an improvement. much like Obama compared to Bush, god know it couldn’t have gotten any worse


I fear that all this cost-cutting madness in F1 will lead to a single-make racing series with standardised chassis and engine in a few years… If this happens, it will mean the end of the road for Formula-1, because most of the F1 fans won’t want to follow/watch an F1 like that.


Im no Jeremy Clarkson when it comes to the environment, I feel very strongly that everybody has a responsibility to help reduce carbon emissions, but is 24 cars going round a track for 2 hours every other sunday really doing that much harm?

Surely it would make more sense to try and find alternatives to sending 14 Jumbo Jets around the world to move the F1 show and those massive mobile Team hospitality buildings.

I’m worried it will ultimately lead to us watching a silent F1 race run on Toyota Prius engines. What a nightmare! God forbid if they started using thier accelerator pedals 😉


“Im no Jeremy Clarkson when it comes to the environment, I feel very strongly that everybody has a responsibility to help reduce carbon emissions, but is 24 cars going round a track for 2 hours every other sunday really doing that much harm? “

In the big picture, no. Nothing like the emissions from all those thousands of people travelling to the event.

Which is something most sports are not immune from – if you think about how many games of football are played on any given weekend in the UK alone, throughout the entire pyramid system. That’s a lot of fan movement.

But at least F1 can be seen to be doing things to help, like in fuel efficiency…but if the whole sport is driven with such a goal in mind I would be fearful for it. It should be an issue, but it should not be the dealbreaker.


the problem begins with “But at least F1 can be seen to be doing things to help, like in fuel efficiency”

case 1. korean GP 100 miles away from the nearest hotel.

case 2. night races. sunlight zero CO2.

case 3. less CO2 emmisions per gp? cut down race distance to 275 km.

FIA is taking us for a ride on green issues for sure. Why else will they impose KERS development on teams? why they want to reintroduce it for 2011 with even less car manufacturers on the grid?

remaining manufacturers ( Merc to some extent and Ferrari ) make high performance cars. Maybe FIA wants to see them out of F1


Todt is still routed in the past and his latest comments about the Briatore case just cements this.

Fact the FIA case and trial against Briatore has been found to be flawed by a real court, the meaning of this being that had the same happened in a real court it would have been thrown out,

Todt is saying again today of Briatore’s guilt even though he still has not received a fair trial.

I don’t know whether Briatore is innocent or guilty but I do know that the Briatore case as handled by the FIA was and is simply wrong. To my mind with Todt shouting the Mosley line he’s showing how flawed he is. He should have sown leadership that is in line with any normal justice system in the world, the FIA are not above the law.

On the green issue, I am sick and tired or having this and that constantly thrown at us be it man made global warming to this and that, I for one and I don’t think I am alone do not care about green issue where F1 is concerned. F1 is a chance to escape everything else that drags us down, I mean how on earth can F1 ever be green what with the transport involved in just getting to the races never mind anything else and there are loads and loads and loads of examples? Let’s not forget just how ungreen the new FIA approved night races are, what a nonsense this is.

Those that follow F1 will probably have noticed how not one journalist has dare to say anything negative and the green push being promoted by the FIA, now what does that say?

I hope this is published and I am sure many others are just as sick as I am with constantly being fed this green tag.


lets see what he gona do to improve show, although i don,t like jean todt should be neutral no ferreri side or schumi.


On a completely irrelevant note, here is a pic of the new lotus 2010 car.



One aero package for entire season PLUS no in-season testing = pecking order largely frozen from first event.

The genius of last season is that the pecking order changed regularly as the teams learnt where their cars were weakest and built updates regularly and gained/clawed back ground. It was unpredictable.

Such proposals might completely ruin that.


“How can you explain that an F1 car needs 80 litres of fuel to cover 100 kilometres? And fans don’t care if a team spends €50 million or €5 million.”

Fans don’t care about the fuel consumption of cars either.

By all means develop additional ‘green’ technologies, but the fundamental nature of the sport must be maintained.

It IS a sport at the end of the day and if someone is concerned about the environmental side of things at the expense of the point of the fastest sport on earth, then they are not motorsport fans.


agree. They can go shopping.

We like power, and how are you going to get power without fuel consuption.


Here here!! Spoken like a true ‘Jeremy Clarkson’!


Where EXACTLY does the FIA President get their income from?


Restricting aero upgrades to one (or any number) per season will lower the cost of producing those said parts, shipping, etc, but it will not lower overall money spent. The teams that have the money will spend it, even if they are restricted down to spending it on one tiny bearing. They will spend countless sums of money to engineer that bearing to gain a competitive edge. The teams with the money will always have the edge.

Although I would support a budget, I am most for deregulating the sport. This is where innovation will spring up and may allow smaller teams an advantage for a certain amount of time. Either way, innovation is one of the main reasons why I love F1.


At what point do Bernie’s recurring comments about USF1 not being able to make the grid become tampering? It can’t help a new team who is seeking sponsors to be continually thrown under the bus by the commercial-rights holder. I wonder how much cash the Serbian gov’t is giving him for his politicking.


Would love to know what’s going on here. Bernie makes the comment so often, he must have an ‘agenda’.


campos doesn’t stand a chance. Bernie wants the serbian money, and is not helping any new team. His mind is set, stefan gp is going to race, just need to know if he takes campos or usf1 spot.


Ever known Bernie to speak without having one?


more so, when does Berni do the honourable thing and throw himself under the bus…?


Didn’t Bernie admit that the Serbian Gov’t is picking up the tab for Stefan GP? Frankly, Stefan GP strikes me as a bunch of vultures, and I don’t like the idea of Mike Coughlan seeing his way back into the paddock.

However, USF1 isn’t helping their cause either with their sudden deafening silence.

Joe A.


You raise an excellent point there George, this hardly is a helpful stance being adopted by Bernie is it?

Richard Craig


Your poll left out “largely neutral”.

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