Jean Todt opposes Ecclestone and stands firm behind current regulations


The architect of Formula One says he wants to ‘tear the house down’, presumably because he didn’t design it very well in the first place. At the heart of Ecclestone’s beef with Formula One is that unlike in the days of the Bernie and Max show, its nigh on impossible to ‘get things done’ or changed anymore. It could be suggested that Mr. E is a victim of his own creation – the F1 strategy group – forced through against the wishes of some of the F1 competitors.

Yet the real problem for Mr. E is that Max Mosley was ‘removed’ from his role of FIA president and replaced by Jean Todt, something Bernie also had a hand in.

The strategy group per se is not the problem, because if Bernie and the new FIA president stood shoulder to shoulder on all issues presented to the strategy group, they would out vote the teams and again be able ‘to get things done’. However, Monsiuer Todt prefers a consensual approach to running Formula One, something Bernie should have considered before Mosley’s departure.

Today we see another example of this as Jean Todt tells Finnish broadcaster MTV, he stands by the current regulations for 2016 and beyond and has no intention of siding with Ecclestone to force through change.

This week we have again seen Bernie do his best to argue for a limited return to the V8 engines of F1’s yesteryear. Ecclestone claims that this would drive down costs for smaller teams and having an ‘independent manufacturer’ of these engines ensures no team is without an engine supplier. The assumption being this is Red Bull’s plight.

However, Red Bull do have an engine supplier in the form of Renault and a legally binding contract which Renault cannot afford to breach for 2016.

Jean Todt agrees the cost of the engines is too high and earlier this year threatened to cap the price the power unit manufacturers can charge to the teams. Ecclestone could align himself with Todt on this issue in the strategy group and the teams could not out vote them on implementation for 2017.

The very fact that Bernie does not simply do this reveals his agenda is something other than cost. He is fundamentally opposed to the new V6 hybrids and so advocates the scrapping of these new power units is fundamental for Formula One. Arguments of how they are too complicated and the driver is no longer the heroes are used to support Ecclestone’s position.

Of course the regulations for 2017 only have to be agreed by March 2016, so Ecclestone may be playing a game of brinksmanship with Todt and eventually relent and agree to an engine price cap. Given the decisions made last week to allow in season F1 engine development this could be a tough red line in the sand to implement. Presumably Mercedes will argue their contract with F1 is now invalid because the price cap should have been set at the time the working group specified the new V6 engines.

The stalemate for Bernie is unlikely to go away, because Todt also told MTV, Ferrari are now taking the engine competition to Mercedes and “I also believe that the others will catch up. It’s just a matter of time.” So no V8’s and no simplified hybrid engines – as proposed by Red Bull – are on F1’s near term horizon.

It really is time for Mr. E to accept he is not going to get his way on the scrapping of the new V6 engines and stop the propaganda war he continues to wave against the sport he is responsible for marketing. Ecclestone can reduce costs to teams for 2017 – if he works with Todt. He can also reduce the driver aids for 2017 – again if he works with Todt. The problem is a dictator whose power has been relatively absolute for decades, struggles to power share.

Maybe it’s just that democracy – however limited – will defeat a totalitarian regime in the end. Though the records of history demonstrate few despots ever make the transition to power sharing.

14 responses to “Jean Todt opposes Ecclestone and stands firm behind current regulations

  1. Isn’t Bernie playing into the EU hands? i.e. if he mandates the old v8’s then the FIA are not in control of the regulations and therefore not doing their role as the EU previously clarified. While Bernie wants the best ‘show’ to promote it’s the FIA who are supposed to be setting rules irrespective of how commercial the show is. Isn’t that why the EU forced FIA to sell commercial rights?

  2. I wonder how the statement that Ferrari made just a couple of days ago that if there ever be a situation where Ferrari has to vote in the World Motorsport Council to sell engines below the price it cost Ferrari to make them they would veto that vote would influence this story?

    In my view it means that Ferrari determines what happens with these engines, not Todd and certainly not Ecclestone 😉

    • But then Ferrari would be isolated and be seen as the bad guys – its political nativity for Ecclestone not to join with Todt and call out Mercedes and Ferrari on this matter.

        • Because he traditionally uses his alliance with Ferrari (xtra payments etc) to bolster his position of strength.

          But Bernie needs to realise he can’t have exactly what he wants. Change = Someone is going to be pissed off, including him.

          Better to land grab what is realisable and form an alliance with compromise, than persistently bang a drum to which we all respond with many and lengthy Yawns…

          • What’s Marchionne’s relationship with Bernie like ? I’m assuming with the old Ferrari guard gone, the traditional alliance Bernie has with Ferrari is no longer as strong as it once was ? Given Marchionne has been quite clear on Ferrari needing to win on a regular basis to justify the spend on F1.

          • I’d assume that deal will come under threat if the EU decides to rule against the current F1 deals.

            As far as Bernie goes ? You’ll have to prise F1 out of his cold dead hands. Which is perhaps what certain people are waiting for.

      • That has never stopped them before… (team orders anyone?)

        And Ecclestone joining with Todt is as likely as CVC willingly giving the teams more money. They have completely opposite styles and them working together means that either one of them has to give up their pride because either Todt has to become confrontational, which he swore he would never do, or Bernie has to change by treating all teams as equal and they both won’t ever think of doing that.

        Bernie, the FIA and the teams are in what I believe is called an Mexican standoff and right now the standoff is waiting for the 4th person to join the fight (the EU) and I suspect/hope that the guns the EU is going to bring are so large that the other 3 can only throw away their weapons and follow the EU with heads down (I’m very much aware that in the 50 year history of the EU they have only managed to do that on two other occasions so the likelihood of this being the actual outcome is not that big)

  3. Every time I see an interview with Bernie (for as such is he known by friend and foe alike) I marvel that he manages to cope with any of this complexity – although many would say that he doesn’t. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe him as actually senile, but his responses to questions and his verbal articulation are hesitant at best. Has he had a stroke at some point? The left hand side of his mouth shows the characteristic drooping and inflexibility of someone so afflicted. The anti-democracy statements and the fulsome praise of Czar Vladimir can’t be seen as anything but an intentional provocation (although I don’t doubt his sincerity) but to what end? He must know that as bad PR goes this is some of the very worst. All very puzzling.

  4. Todt is the first responsible for the present regulations. He is incompetent as his engineers. He blindly accepted what Mercedes imposed.
    And now, instead of trying to fix the problems, he run after titles and medals.
    A chiarlatan. He should be fired.

    • What did Mercedes impose?

      Renault, Ferrari, Mercedes along with Audi and other technical delegates were all involved in drafting the current engine spec. Blame them all, don’t just single out the one who did the better job.

  5. Sharp article, TJ, very sharp indeed. Needless to say that the fans are fed up big way with all that very old guard. Can’t wait to see them all replaced. Bernie, Todt, Whiting including all of their friends & relatives.

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