‘F1 not in crisis’ says Todt

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The president of the FIA, Jean Todt, is a very different character to his predecessor. Bernie Ecclestone expressed this fact succinctly when commenting on the lack of progress in the F1 strategy group: “Jean is no Max,” he said.

Yet Todt was elevated to his current position because he is the antithesis of the confrontational Max Mosley. The Frenchman has always stated he will govern with consensus, which sounded appealing in F1-land during the latter days of the Mosely reign.

One of the straws which broke the camel’s of the Moseley presidency, was his position on cost control. Max was about to guillotine regulations through, restricting teams’ spending, just as he unilaterally introduced parc ferme regulations immediately following F1 qualifying sessions.

Conversley, Todt described his approach to governance as follows.  “If we can achieve a result by harmony, it will always be better,” he told the FT in a 2012 interview. Though, the FIA president says he too is committed to cost cutting.

Then again, its now fashionable in the paddock to agree with cost control as a big idea. Just not in my back yard.

Speaking to French publication, Nice Matin, Todt explains: “The obvious problem is the distribution of [F1] revenues to the teams, but the FIA will ​​not intervene. Everyone initially approved this system [of income distribution] and now argue about it.”

Income distribution is now consistently on the agenda in the engine room of F1 power.

Interestingly, just before the big pow pow in Biggin Hill earlier this month, a full table was disclosed to the media of how each team had been paid from the F1 2014 revenues; for and despite of their their participation last season.

This information is usually tough to come by.

Jean Todt is committed to the technological path Formula One is set upon, dismissing the accusation it is too complex. “We have always said that we need to make the connection between racing and road cars. We cannot go back to manual gearboxes, if everyone else is using on-board computers”.

Formula One is the “laboratory for developing new technologies,” argues Todt.

Further, the Frenchman doesn’t believe the current Mercedes dominance is what is turning off the viewers and spectators. “At the French Open, nine of the last ten tournaments were won by Rafael Nadal, so did they change the rules? No. People just have to get better – and this is the same in Formula One”.

Formula One may not be in crisis, but those responsible for its governance are doing little to dispel that image. Todt concludes, “I believe Formula One is generally in good shape, but people just don’t talk about that enough.”

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39 responses to “‘F1 not in crisis’ says Todt

  1. As with many aspects of his presidency (eg, appointing the guy who approved 40 min road evac for Jules), this again shows that he either has no idea (worrisome) or doesn’t give a shit (terrifying). I’d opt strongly for the latter based on repetition of foolish and dangerous decisions, and prioritisation of political gain over all else.

    • Having just been reminiscing about the ‘Mosley years’ (below) I re-read your post and was struck by two main differences between he and Todt. Namely, that his legal background better equipped him to be more even-handed in his judgments, and his father’s political past kept him wise to the dangers of politics.
      Max seemed to be the Governer of the sport, whereas Jean seems to be more comfortable in the role of President.

      • “Monsieur Le Président”

        French people are suckers for such showing of awe and honour… Status is a highly sought commodity there.

    • Hi Gary,

      Just to quickly introduce myself, I’m the guy who on Twitter made that light-hearted joke about you being brave RE: pink (Salmon) pants… I was happy you enjoyed that joke.

      I have a question (maybe two):

      “(eg, appointing the guy who approved 40 min road evac for Jules)” – Gary Hartstein

      Regarding Jules’ current condition; to the best of your knowledge of said condition now, and similar conditions generally, and the process of evac, do you feel that the additional minutes – over and above the mandated time – spent getting Jules to hospital has had any contributory factor to Jules’ current condition?

      If so, and assuming said factor carries negative implications, to what extent do you feel Jules is “worse off”, and it what way?

      I understand if you can’t answer, for whatever reason. However, if it’s due to it being too public, you can send me a Twitter message on @WTF_F1, if you feel like it of course.

      Lastly, I understand that there were many, many errors that day. I am specifically curious as to the “additional” minutes delay Jules suffered, over and above the mandate, and their impact to where Jules is presently.

      Thanks,

      @WTF_F1

  2. Well it was Mosley who endorsed his candidacy, so we can conclude this is another one of Mosley’s failures.

  3. Max was villanised for being right really… ha. He wasn’t somebody I liked, and he did some stupid things too, but most folks I meet who talk about him can’t get past the spanky max stuff, which frankly has nothing to do with anyone except him and the other consenting adults until he breaks the law. Hell yeah it is hilarious, but I couldn’t care less if a head of state is an alcoholic, SM fetishist, with a ponchant for rubber and butt plugs, so long as they are not breaking any laws, and it isn’t interfering with completing their job to the required compentency.

    • I think F1 is poorer for having lost the steadying influence of Max. Since his departure Bernie has been like Morecombe without Wise, if you take my meaning, except without the ‘straight-man’ the ‘funny guy’ looks increasingly lost and delirious.
      Consensus is all very well, but that relies on everyone involved being completely objective when making decisions. Max understood that he had to work with the promoter to corral the teams in the right direction and, as much as they utilised the softly-softly approach, sometimes they needed a firm hand.
      Jean’s ‘laissez-faire’ attitude
      Vs.
      Max’s ‘over-the-knee spankings’?
      Laugh at him now, but at least back then it actually felt like somebody was governing the sport.

      • “the steadying influence of Max”

        Oh, this is a fallacy. Spanky is the one who stacked the deck generating the current crisis we have in F1, by selling the Commercial Rights to his buddy-bud-bud Bernard for pennies and with no strings attached, and then prolonging the sale for a horrifying 100 years just prior to getting booted out of office. Our impotent Little Jean doesn’t yet come close to such monumental stupidity, although his relinquishing regulatory privileges to the CRH for another handful of pennies may be in contention…

        • Fair play. I suppose I really just miss the feeling that at least it felt like somebody knew what was going on back then, Machiavellian as it was.
          Now it just feels like… rudderless?

    • I have thought and remarked much the same since the debacle unfolded.

  4. Would the people who ” just don’t talk about that enough” include the FIA and the promoter that the FIA contracted to er…. promote?

    #facepalm

    • I also thought this last comment from the invisible one made a lot of sense. You can also include mush of the mainstream media who seem to be only interested in negative news.

  5. “At the French Open, nine of the last ten tournaments were won by Rafael Nadal, so did they change the rules? No. People just have to get better – and this is the same in Formula One”.

    Yes, but nobody prevents any opponents of Rafael to try new rackets, hire a better coach or practice more hours every day…

  6. He does have a point about the dominance. When Schumi was winning we all hated it but they had so many viewers worldwide… I don’t believe it’s mercedes who push the viewers away. Kids just don’t want f1. They want 2 fast 2 furious. they don’t understand what f1 is about.

  7. The part that I have the most difficulty with is not so much the pay scale from 10 to 1 (although I don’t see how a team can compete all year and not ear a dime), but the payment arrangement itself.
    Can you imagine going for a job interview as a mechanic and being told not only that you’d need to provide your own tools, service bay etc, but also prove you had enough set aside to cover your costs for the first year, be cause you wouldn’t be paid until the following year, and then only if you were still employed. Not only that, but you might work the entire year, have some really good clients, but because you didn’t bring in enough you weren’t going to be paid, but you could keep working if you wished. Furthermore, after surviving that first year, you were only going to be paid quarterly for the previous year – provided you stayed in employed.
    Yet, somehow this never seems to be a sticking point, probably because the big teams know they are going to be around.
    This is another point against ever seeing a breakaway series, Bernie would just keep everyone’s money for the previous year.

  8. Pricing the fans out of the venues and away from the TV…is a great way to drive off fans.

    • Yes, it is a great way to drive off fans ………but FOM doesn’t care about fans; they care about money. The way they have things set up is NOT fan driven. The tracks have signed contracts to pay Bernie $20 miliion or so every year (with a 10% increase year on year) and for that they get to put on a race. Bernie owns all the track advertising and the TV rights; that’s where FOM makes money. It doesn’t matter at all to FOM if fans show up or not; FOM gets paid regardless of how many fans follow the ‘sport’ and, as long as the TV contracts last, FOM doesn’t give a sh*t about how many fans tune in. They are in it for the money and the way it’s set up means fans don’t count at all.

      I know this is short term thinking, but the money guys are in it for the short term. FOM has extracted an enormous amount of money from the ‘sport’ by taking loans against future earnings (estimates are in the $5 billion range); when it all falls apart someone will be left holding the bag and it won’t be FOM. Why should they care about the fans or the long term survival of F1? They had wanted to go public but Bernie’s little difficulty with the Germans put that on hold. FOM are down to something like 30% ownership right now and if they could unload F1 and it’s pile of debt they would do so instantly. FOM were valuing F1 at something like $10 billion for an IPO several years ago; if they could get that and suck another $5 billion out whoever bought it would be holding a pig a poke.

      So, bottom line, they don’t care about any of you as fans, aren’t concerned with falling viewing TV viewing and really don’t give a sh*t about the ‘sport’.

  9. A perfect summary of Todt’s time in office:

    “The obvious problem is (…), but the FIA will ​​not intervene.”

    That’s it.

    Maybe Todt’s plot involves allowing F1 to stumble on its feet, so the FIA picks up the pieces and inherits everything. Maybe it another thing entirely and he is afraid or incapable of getting it done. Regardless, this is his mark, inaction.

    • “The obvious problem is the distribution of revenues to the teams…”

      Todt is right about this though.

      And the FIA may not have the levers to correct that problem.

      So the FIA may be waiting for FOM “to stumble” so they can pick up the pieces.

      Looking at the FIA’s background actions, Todt does seem to working to do exactly that.

  10. One wonders if Todt will recognise that F1 is sinking, even after it has begun shipping water.

  11. Are you sure that, “progress” wise he was talking about Max Mosley? and not about Max Verstappen? because Max is making the most progress of anyone in F1 in years…

  12. I hereby submit my name for consideration as the next FIA President. Can I get a write-in campaign started?

    • No. You need to submit an application with a list of supporting members (revised rules):

      ” the candidate will need just 11 members on his list – the president, president of the senate, deputy president of mobility, deputy president for sport and seven vice-presidents for sport.”

      Pretty simple. Good luck.

    • If not, it looks like there’s a few vacancies opening up over at FIFA…….

  13. Ultimately the group with the greatest power in F1 is the TV companies. If they had some sense, they’d get together and tell FOM what they’re willing to pay for F1 and not what Bernie wants from them. It’s obvious that Sky UK are not getting the returns from F1 they had bargained for. When their contract comes up for renewal, will they be prepared to pay as much again? Unless they can stop sharing broadcasts with the BBC, I doubt it. If the BBC are forced out, F1 will be dead in the UK within a couple of years. What Todt thinks by then won’t matter.

    • And believe me, it’s pretty much dead here in the US of A. I was out of town in San Francisco over the weekend and as far as F1 was concerned it doesn’t exist in America. I finally found a little blurb on the last page of the NY Times sports section that mentioned Monaco and Hamilton’s FU. No one here knows F1 even exists and F1 is not doing anything to promote itself. The television coverage really, really totally sucks, is expensive, and is filled with commercials. I watch the Sky broadcast on the interwebs. Bernie keeps saying the US is an important market for F1but does nothing, absolutely nothing, to promote it or generate interest. He’s living in the past and will die soon and doesn’t care. The CART/IRL split destroyed open wheel racing in the US (thanks a lot Tony George), and although Indy is trying (and, IMHO, succeeding a bit) it is a niche sport. I don’t know what the solution is, but no one in FOM of the FIA is even trying to do anything. When Mercedes and Red Bull pull out the sport, and they won’t be around that long, F1 will die unless changes are made. Honestly, I go back and forth about even watching races anymore; I missed Monaco and frankly am glad I didn’t make the effort to get up at 4:30 am. I didn’t miss much and if this keeps up won’t miss it at all.

      And Bernie, I can afford a Rolex watch but don’t want one.

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