Jean Todt: I'll only be FIA President for one term

New FIA President Jean Todt has conceded that he will not be staying in the role for anything like the 'crazy' length of time his controversial predecessor Max Mosley did - as he offered interesting views on the budget cap and his vision for the future of F1...
Ferrari team boss Jean Todt at Interlagos
Ferrari team boss Jean Todt at Interlagos
© Crash Dot Net Ltd

Jean Todt has revealed that he will only remain in the position of FIA President for a single term, describing the 16-year tenure of the controversial and divisive Max Mosley as 'crazy' - even if the Englishman 'did a tremendous job on safety' during his stint at the helm of F1's governing body.

Todt defeated former World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen in a landslide election in October to succeed Mosley in the most powerful and influential post in international motorsport - though fears were expressed prior to the duel that the former Ferrari team principal would be unable to remain unbiased in the role and would be in effect little more than a puppet to dispense out Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone's ever-more unpopular whims.

What's more, some have opined that in the three months since assuming his new responsibilities, the Frenchman has been unnervingly quiet as to almost appear invisible, with some suggesting that behind-the-scenes it is still his predecessor who is truly pulling the strings. His new disclosure, then, is sure to assuage some of those critics.

"I've been urged to write a book," Todt told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I will, but only after my term as President of the FIA, and it won't just be a book about Ferrari. I'll only stay at the FIA for one term; it's crazy to think Mosley was there for 16 years. I've got other things I want to do, and life's too short.

"[The stress] hasn't lessened; it's just different. Compared with Peugeot and Ferrari, the only difference is that there I was well-paid for what I did - here I'm not. I do it for my passion and because I believe in it and want to make a contribution to a field, to a sport I love.

"Is my heart with Ferrari or Schumi? It's with the FIA. Ferrari has been the most significant period in my life, but now that's in the past, I talk to them as I do with the other teams. I'm too old to listen to those who say I'll be too close to Schumi and Ross Brawn. I'll be in Bahrain with the World Council so that members can get out on the track and experience it first-hand, but I prefer to watch the grands prix on TV.

"[Mosley is] a friend [and] one of the most intelligent people I've ever known, but even when he was an enemy he was great - he did a tremendous job on safety whether on the road or the track. You only have to think that since [Ayrton] Senna no-one has died, and if we look at [Felipe] Massa's accident... And everyone has their own style."

Describing comeback king Michael Schumacher as 'shy and reserved' and 'a friend' rather than a son or a brother - 'because you don't choose your family, but you do choose your friends' - Todt argued that the record-breaking multiple F1 World Champion 'will be fast again if they give him the right car' in 2010.

He insisted, moreover, that in the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal, the evidence against ex-Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore 'was much so that someone even apologised, adding that 'we will re-visit the matter, particularly on the subject of licences - we'll make sure that all team managers must have one."

The man famous for his nervous disposition as a team manager - allegedly even needing to wear bandages on his fingertips when sitting on the pit wall - interestingly also went on to explain his vision for the sport's future, revealing that he is no fan of the budget cap that Mosley was so desperately keen to implement towards the end of his reign.

"I'm against the budget cap," the 63-year-old confessed, "because in China for example they can do more with the same investment than in other parts of the world. Savings need to be made through the rules, like for example a single aerodynamic package for the whole year. The cars slide more at Monaco? Perhaps we should look at the driver's ability instead!

"I will work hard to make [the rules] as clear as possible, but I can't guarantee that there won't be problems - the engineers are clever. The future is tied to the new technologies. It's not acceptable to abandon KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) just because it's expensive; the teams need to work out a way to make it affordable.

"F1 needs to understand that the world has changed; you can't explain to people that a racing car uses 80 litres of fuel to go 100km, and the fans don't know if a team spends EUR50 million instead of EUR5."

With just under four years to make his mark, Todt has already put in-place a number of key structural changes, restructuring the FIA into three separate departments for mobility, sport and support services and bringing in a new system of commissioners to manage the running of grands prix, to be composed of ex-F1 drivers. Following the bitter end to the Mosley years, it is clear that his successor very much intends to be his own man.

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