FIA boss Jean Todt on F1 as entertainment and the red line on engine technology
Jean Todt
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Mar 2017   |  5:39 pm GMT  |  225 comments

FIA president Jean Todt has said that a return to F1 of high revving V8, V10 or V12 engines would not be accepted by society, setting out the FIA’s stall when it comes to negotiations with Liberty Media over future power units beyond 2020.

At the same time he acknowledged that “motor sport.. did not adapt enough” to the revolution that has happened in social media and entertainment, but which he now expects to be rectified by Liberty.

Asked whether he would accept to go back to V8 or V12 engines for entertainment purposes, as has been suggested in some quarters and by many fans, Todt said,

“It will not be accepted by society. Again we have a responsibility to run an organisation monitored by global society. And global society will not accept that. I’m sure if you said, ‘let’s go back to engines from ten years back’, a lot of manufacturers would not support [that] any more. I’m sure you would have a minimum of three out of four who would leave.”

That said, he does accept that F1 needs to be more entertaining and to create more fascination. The new chassis regulations this year are one step on that road, but Todt’s former employee Ross Brawn is now in charge of the racing side of things at F1 and discussions have already begun on long term planning for what the F1 product should be.

“I think entertainment has always been a priority,” he said. “What has changed is the way to entertain. But not only in sport, our lives are more or less [the same] – for people like you it has been a revolution.

Jean Todt, Michelle Yeoh

“All communication – clearly and I think probably [that] will be one of the values of the new Formula One commercial rights owner. He has the expertise, he has those things. I am not an expert but I am surrounded by people who know much more than me. But, take my wife, she is in movies and now movies go to Netflix. A new movie doesn’t go to a theatre any more, it goes to Netflix [and] 180 countries immediately have access to the thing.

“So it is a revolution, and probably in motor sport we did not adapt enough the evolution to this revolution.”

When it comes to the current engine formula of hybrid turbo engines, these have been confirmed until 2020. But Todt says that when plotting the course beyond,the stakeholders need to address costs as one of the key elements, something that was overlooked last time, to the detriment of smaller teams like Marussia, Manor and Caterham. Ross Brawn has also made a lot of this point.

Even Sauber came close to folding as it wrestled with engine bills of $20 million a year. Todt admits that the governing body has to accept some responsibility for not controlling costs.

Ross Brawn

“I don’t think you can say we are locked (in to 2020) but we know that stability is essential, firstly, to have as much competition as possible, and then to protect the investment,” said Todt. “You cannot invest in new technology every year, it will not be affordable and we already complain about the cost of motor racing, the cost of Formula One, which is for me absurd.

“It’s really something we need to fight and so far we did not manage to bring a solution and I’m happy to take part of the responsibility of the governing body. But saying that, it is not easy because you need to share. For me I’ve always liked to get a certain solidarity when you take decisions.”

As F1’s new owners, the FIA and the teams consider what the F1 of the future should be, there is a school of thought that it should now diverge from the automotive industry that has pulled it into hybrid turbo engines and instead follow its own path as a global sporting entertainment. As the automotive products become increasingly electrified, Formula E looks the more likely laboratory for the automotive technology in motorsport. Todt is not so sure.

“At the moment Formula One has nothing to be compared to Formula E,” he says. “One costs an average of €350m a year, the other one costs €10m or so. [That’s] the first big difference. Then the location is different.

“Formula E is probably the championship that has been the most advanced in communicating and in attracting new fans. But clearly I think, which is a good thing, we have quite a nice range of categories of motor sports.”

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What rubbish is Todt saying now ! Read between the lines and it translates to “if the engine manufacturers (road car makers) pull out, F1 will lose a massive amount of revenue, & our huge money making industry will have to rely on paid-for combustion engines from the likes of Cosworth, Illmor, Hart & Ferrari”.
That is what F1 is all about at present, it’s not for the fans, and it’s not about the drivers anymore. Many are leaving or have just about had enough of pedaling these play station eco pieces of emasculating sh*te”. F1 does not need to be relevant to road car technology, It’s motor racing (the clue is in the name) in the same way that Moto GP, NASCAR, INDYCar & every other form of motorsport has stuck to it’s petrol guns.
Time for Todt to go !


23yrs a fan no more. F1 thinks by being on social media is the answer? Not really as its dull, lacking in action. 5m fans left last year! F1 needs huge changes, and the prices dropping. Bernie right, its a full rip off. Alanso right, 1st lap cruise for fuel, lap 4 tyres harvesting is not fun. More fans will go.


An entire V10/V8 F1 race used less fuel and was less detrimental to the environment than a SINGLE atlantic airline flight. Such unproportional reasoning.


F1 is dying a slow death. The racing is dull, there are no personalities left in pit lane and the cars look and sound hideous. Money has become the primary objective of F1’s management (thanks to Bernie and his cronies) and has been to the detriment of the sport.


I can’t help but wish for the normally aspirated V8. These hybrid engines are way to complicated and hugely expensive. Change the rules to allow for engine refueling, allow Pirelli to design a normal race tire and require all non factory cars to get current engines. Let them drive with fury! It would save ton of money and provide a much more entertaing event! Saving fuel, tires, combined with tempermental, comlicated overly expensive engines is much less exciting! Most teams still don’t have it right! Alonzo must be gutted. 3 years counting this one and Honda still is uncompetitive – much less reliable. Proves my point!


For F1 fans, Jean Todt’s mention of a ‘global community’ is a major worry. It’s a fantasy that only exists in the muddled minds of New World Order believers.

Todt’s frequent appearances at the UN and other international political forums suggest that he has higher career ambitions than merely FIA President.

While he’s fiddling, F1 is burning. Declining spectator attendances reflect falling interest in F1’s Brave New World. Pay TV has accelerated the downward trend in ‘eyeballs on screens’.

But Todt’s solution is a recipe for disaster. Like most motorsport administrators and promoters, he confuses sport with entertainment. They’re chalk and cheese.

Sport is a contest to find the best competitor, not the most entertaining competition.

Casual viewers soon get bored if the competition isn’t close. But sports fans don’t care as long as the competition is genuine.

In motorsport, wheel-to-wheel action is a bonus, not a requirement.

Instead of chasing the ‘entertainment’ market, Todt should focus on recapturing F1’s lost fanbase.

So far he hasn’t showed any sign of doing that. Phonebook technical regulations and contrived sporting rules have reduced F1 virtually to a one-make series. The cars all look alike, sound awful, corner as if they’re on rails, and are nearly impossible to overtake on the track.

Yet they rarely provide close racing, even between team-mates.

As for controlling costs, if anyone should know how impossible that is it’s an ex-Ferrari boss! One way or another, sporting teams always find ways to spend whatever money they can lay their hands on.

Todt’s ham-fisted attempt to make F1 more ‘entertaining’ is only turning more fans away. We want cars that look different, sound different, are exciting when they’re alone on the track, and can overtake without too much trouble.

Instead of trying to contrive close racing and contain costs, Todt should be encouraging more big-spending car companies to join F1. A good start would be to free up the technical regulations so that they’re relevant to different road car design philosophies:
* Chassis – free except for only overall dimensions, a crash test, and a total ban on ‘aero’.
* Engine – free except for a dynamic total energy consumption limit.
* Tyres – free except for overall dimensions and a limit of one pit crew member using manual tools, including the jack, for replacements (think about it).
* Replace the Safety Car with speed-limited Yellow Zones and a drive-through penalty for offenders, so that racing can continue around the majority of the circuit

In a nutshell, Jean Todt needs to choose between fixing F1 and becoming the UN Secretary-General.


Wrong, Mr Todt. F1 has no obligation, moral or otherwise, to appeal to “global society”. What a ridiculous statement! I think his personal crusades on environmental matters have created a major conflict of interest and he is not the man to be moving the FIA forward. Maybe Bernie can find a new job for him.


At its current state of development, Formula E is a triumph of political correctness – as the presence of so many manufacturers proves yet it is hardly exciting motor sport.

The racing and the cars may well improve but they have a long way to go before they can even compete with GP2 ( now F2 ) let alone Formula 1.


Jean Todt is in a world of his own. To say thathat multi cylinder engines are socially unacceptable is rubbish. Why? V6 engined cars are not widespread in the market so if the present configuration is his defence then it is not credible. Manufacturers would not rely old designs. Ì favour a return to open V8-10-12 rules. It was a fans delight yesteryear to hear different sounding loud engines that made your hair stand as they passed by. The 2017 cars are still muted. Let’s return to spectacle and sound.


Give nascar fans a three cylinder 1.0 turbo engine and see if any of them turn up to an event.


Barry, Nascar has had a major fall in track attendances over the last few years, so unlikely to make it any worse than it already is.


Not acceptable to society! Why doesn’t Jean Todt let the fans vote for what we want?


Same as Bernie, old bloke ain’t got a clue…

We can only hope he won’t get reelected and F1 will get a proper engine again


Oh my. Jean, it seems you’re out of touch with F1 fans & put your foot in your mouth. Was a big supporter of you when you were at Ferrari but be honest this FIA gig you have is beyond you – it’s not for you. Curious on which society are you actually referring to – the one that doesn’t follow nor care about F1? Why would the pinnacle of motorsport & a niche entertainment show be appeasing to them the broad masses instead of F1 fans who pay to view at the track & on Pay TV? How many new fans have you brought on board since the introduction of this V6 turbo hybrid vacuum sounding era compared to the old F1 fans you’ve lost? Fans want entertainment, a real show, great racing, more competition & better looking cars & yes better sounding engines!

Track attendances are down & as costs keep going up less people will attend if it’s the same story & as a result more heritage Grands Prix will be gone from the calendar as organisers keep making losses. More & more fans aren’t paying for Pay TV either. Focus on what your F1 society want first Jean!

The society as you say, seem to accept, buy & enjoy the V8/V10/V12 engines that current Manufacturers in F1 like Ferrari, Mercedes & McLaren make. Curious on what cars you own & drive/get driven in these days? Bring back the real sound of F1 (am sure they can be made to be more fuel efficient) before 2020 & the racing again & am sure both new & old fans will come on board. Hope Ross Brawn can help here. Start now with removing the fuel flow restriction so they can rev higher for tge first GP.

James open up a poll to see what engine our society wishes to have – am sure it won’t be the current configuration.


I’ve reviewed all the comments and I’ve come to the conclusion that I think formula one should be banned. It’s increasingly against societies values and norms. I’m sorry James but your future is now in serious doubt. We can’t possibly allow these horseless carriages to continue on as is. Automation is the only future society will accept. In the meantime let them in cake.


F1 has never been about road relevance. It makes that claim only arbitrarily. Get rid of pneumatic valvetrains, aero-induced cornering power, and slick tires if you want that; none of these things matters at all for road cars.

Manufacturer marketing and prestige are served by F1, that’s the only relevance. Frankly, manufacturers would be better served by sticking to sports, GT, and endurance racing. Ford Racing executives are on record stating that F1 (and Imdycar) are too far removed from anything road relevant to warrant the expense of participating. I believe BMW executives have made similar remarks.


Rudy, I have never heard any BMW executive make any remarks of the kind you describe. I wonder if they have changed their tune since they were overtaken by Mercedes in the sales charts.


I’m not sure what he is talking about in terms of not being accepted by society. Does he mean in terms of emissions?

If so, it’s a complete non-issue as more emissions are wasted travelling between venues and of all the fans and support structure.


Whether we like it or not the general public non F1 fans think that F1 is an extravagant waste of fuel and money. In an era where any negative is used to push their cause the noisier the car and the more fuel that’s used the more they’ve got grounds to complain. This is partly why F1 is going the way it is, it’s not racing in isolation from the rest of the world. That said though, whether it’s an inline 2, V6 or V12 these people will always complain so F1 won’t gain any credible brownie points for trying to do the right thing. There’s an argument from a commercial perspective just to get the cars loud and attract new fans and hope this offsets the negative publicity from other areas.


i am so happy to hear a sensible fia president explain why f1 needs to progress not regress.


Me too – Let me know when it happens 🙂


did you not hear that architects are talking of introducing plant covered structures on sky scrapers to reduce the levels of pollution in cities? did you not hear of paris calling for reduction in car use because of pollution?
the global society don’t want polluting vehicles so f1 will continue to progress in being road relevant and i like it..


If you want to understand why hitching Formula One’s wagon to automobile OEMs, which is what’s been done, is suicide, please read this article on VW at the Geneva Auto Show and then connect the dots.


Look, if the V8/10/12 is not brought back pronto, l’m giving F1 the flick.


How will Liberty view this? .. they’re American .. they want to crack the USA .. which means more races in the USA .. are the Americans interested in watching the current format ? As for electric cars .. we have Formula E .. so F1 has to differentiate itself and offer something inherently exciting, which means something to make your heart race and ears shudder .. shock and awe .. F1 is a bit dull these days, no real competition for the last few years and the cost of entry into the series is so restrictive, let alone the cost of being competitive. Hidden behind expensive paywalls it’s not so attractive for sponsors anymore .. another nail in the coffin. F1 has lost its way. Take it back to engines that don’t cost a few £100M to develope and make a decent roar.


Well Jean, as you’re feeling so politically correct, here are a few more ideas:
– Rename the pits “The Safe Zone”?
– Level off the podium so no one feels inferior?
– Introduce eco-friendly wooden medals and trophies?
– Gender quota for female drivers?
– Ban the use of blue flags as they are micro-aggressions against back-markers?


I’m not so sure that cutting down trees to make medals and trophies is eco friendly, but I do like the last one 🙂


Random….Trees are a renewable resource!!!!




Late night plowing fields the naturally aspirated inline six exhaust glowed red. It wasn’t an entertainment moment. I learned to wear ear plugs because I wobble stepped down the tractor stairs completely strung out! My middle brother superseded me and exchanged the latest tractor’s turbo exhaust muffler pipe for a straight pipe per neighbor situation. My brother liked loud.

The thing is: middle brother, I, and ancient formula one fan are dinosaurs. Loud is immediate. Standing near a late 70’s rock concert pa system while a drum god drum soloed- AWESOME. The actual impact of Formula 1 per the environment is irrelevant. The proposed impact the pinnacle of motorsport offers is relevant.

Motorsport is declining in general. I would crash my dirt bike and know not to come home hurt. Who does that anymore? Many of us are ‘has beens’. Todt is trying to figure out F1’s future. I’m not sure live ear shattering experience, while awesome, is enough.

Z Milosavljevic

Although the last couple of years have been dull, I think F1 started circling the drain way before the v6 turbo hybrids showed up, I was excited when they said they were going back to turbos, but then I started watching F1 in the 80’s during the last turbo era. What started killing F1 was when the FIA started mandating engine configurations v10’s only then v8’s only and now v6 turbo hybrids. In the 80s you could run either a 3.0 NA or 1.5 liter turbo it could be any configuration (accept rotary) V, flat, inline, 4, 6, 8, 10, even 12 cylinder engines, whatever the team thought they could win with. For the last twenty years F1 has been adopting too many ideas from NASCAR too much standardization to save money it never saves money and just as in NASCAR the wealthy teams are always successful, there is really never a point in cost control even if you mandate a cap a team with more money will have the money to hire better engineers and drivers.
I remain optimistic about these new cars only because the NA cars sucked in comparison to the 80’s turbo cars and it took a few years for the NA cars to catch up. As far as the drivers with the exception of Kimi they are dull both as drivers and personalities.


“society wouldn’t accept them”

What a pathetic thing to say, and how incorrect. F1 fans hate these washing machine PUs, they are the lowest point in our history, halfway to soulless electric nonsense. F1 is about screaming engines, not whining greenpeace bedwetters eco fantasies, a pox on them

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