In words that will arguably not be music to the likes of Lewis Hamilton and co, FIA President Jean Todt has vowed to take a tough approach with regard to the road-going misdemeanours of the current F1 crop – with on-track sanctions to punish off-track antics.
As he settles into what is the most powerful role in international motorsport – having succeeded Max Mosley last October – Todt is seeking to stamp his own mark on the FIA Presidency, and has put his weight behind the 'Make Roads Safe' campaign in a bid to save five million lives over the next ten years, with powerful publicity through the medium of F1 a key part of that.
Earlier this year, 2008 world champion Hamilton found himself in trouble with Melbourne police for performing an illegal 'burn-out' in his Mercedes road car after leaving the Albert Park circuit. Having been stopped at the scene and had his car impounded on the charge of 'hooning' – deliberately losing control of his vehicle – the McLaren-Mercedes star will subsequently be tried for the offence in Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 24 August. The Briton previously lost his driving licence for speeding in France.
Todt's argument is that F1 drivers should be sensible rather than reckless role models, and should be ambassadors for the sport rather than causing it embarrassment. Now, the Frenchman asserts, if a driver acts irresponsibly on public roads, he will pay the price with on-track penalties.
“Last year 1.3 million people died on roads in the world – 90 per cent in developing countries,” the 64-year-old told Le Parisien
newspaper. “The forecasts for 2020 are terrible, and they estimate that nearly two million people will be killed if no action is taken by then.
“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. There is an incompatibility between the status of a role model champion and a possible infringement on the road. A [racing] driver is a driver like the others. We are therefore trying to see whether to do something, and how.”