His father Jean Todt was one of the key architects of Ferrari's sustained Formula 1 glory for a decade-and-a-half, and now ART Grand Prix co-founder Nicolas Todt has dropped hints that he too intends to make his name in the top flight – provided the economic conditions allow.
Set up jointly between Todt and countryman Frédéric Vasseur, ART Grand Prix has been one of – if not the – most successful teams in both the GP2 and GP2 Asia Series' since the sub-F1 category came into being back in 2005, with no fewer than six titles and 16 race victories to its name over that short period.
Indeed, the Yonne-based outfit has displayed even more crushing dominance one step further down the ladder in the F3 Euroseries, where – competing under the banner of ASM Formule 3 until 2007 – it remains undefeated in either the drivers' or teams' championship for the past five years. Drivers to have come through ART's ranks in F3 and GP2 include reigning F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, fellow grand prix stars Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil and Sébastien Buemi and DTM front-runners Jamie Green, Bruno Spengler, Paul di Resta and Alex Prémat amongst many others.
Though Todt Jnr has suggested he is likely to eye a move into GP3 – a new feeder series to GP2 – when it is officially launched next year, he conceded that F1 is far from out of the question either, particularly in the light of the FIA's radical cost-cutting drive in force at the very pinnacle of the sport. The Frenchman was rumoured to be interesting in purchasing Scuderia Toro Rosso last year, when Red Bull energy drinks magnate Dietrich Mateschitz announced his intention to put the small Faenza-based concern on the market.
“There are many synergies between F3 and GP2, because if an F3 driver wins with us, it makes sense for him to stay with us for GP2, like with Lewis Hamilton, with Romain Grosjean, with Nico Hülkenberg,” said the man who also manages Ferrari F1 star Felipe Massa and STR ace Sébastien Bourdais, in an interview with GPWeek
“It's a great company with very capable people, and now we have to develop the company. We are in three championships, with F3, GP2 and GP2 Asia, and I hope we do something else next year. We are talking about GP3, so I hope we will be able to do that.
“Obviously when you are in this business you always dream of Formula 1. The gap between Formula 1 and GP2 is too big, but I have always said that if they are able to cut the costs drastically – because at the end of the day Formula 1 is a passion and a sport but it has also got to be profitable, because if you do a job you don't want to lose money – then I would think about it.
“If I go to Formula 1, though, my goal is not to survive; it is to do well in terms of results and in terms of economics. The recent decisions – which are not yet finalised – go in the right direction, and I think that in the future it will be much more doable to have your own team. If things go like that and they take that direction, then I will consider it.”
F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone stated last month that he has three new teams ready to join the starting grid in 2010.