F1 struggles to honor Paris victims

I’m not sure of the tone of the meetings but reports suggest there was some discussion on how to honor the victims of the Paris attacks during the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.

According to reports, FIA president Jean Todt and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone debated over how best to honor the victims and it has been revealed that the drivers will be wearing black armbands during the pre-race ceremonies.  The challenge was that Todt had already marked this weekend for two minutes of silence to honor the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

It seems he didn’t want to marginalize those efforts as it is a particularly strong cause of the FIA for good reason. In fact, AUTOSPORT says that Todt was quoted telling French television, Canal+

“Do you realise the number of people killed in road accidents is by far bigger than the number of people who died in Paris?”

That may be true and I certainly understand the cause was already planned for this weekend and the event should do something to mark the cause but I’m not sure drawing relevancy between road accident deaths and the tragic slaughter of dozens of innocent civilians in France is the best way to honor that cause.

Surely there is a difference in being involved in a road accident and being gunned down attending a concert or football match?

As it turns out, F1 will honor both issues on Sunday but it’s not the reaction I would have expected from a Frenchman in charge of the French organization, the FIA.

“Because of the horrific terrorist attacks of 13 November in Paris, the ceremony to pay tribute to the casualties of road traffic accidents scheduled for the Brazilian Grand Prix within the framework of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims has been modified.

“The drivers’ parade lap will see all competitors wearing a black armband as a sign of mourning and tribute to the victims of the Paris tragedy and as a gesture of solidarity with their families and loved ones.

“In addition, a French flag decorated with a black ribbon will be carried on the truck used during the drivers’ parade.

“Finally, a backdrop prepared for the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims will be displayed behind the drivers on the grid at 13h45 (local time) for a minute of silence as a tribute to those who have lost their lives or have been injured in road traffic accidents.”


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Prakhar Mehrotra

Ever since becoming president of the FIA, I feel that Todt has failed to see the forest for the trees. Yes, road safety is a very important cause but I feel that it has occupied a lot more of Todt’s time than it was necessary too and has affected the effectiveness of FIA governance of F1. Todt should try to be more sympathetic towards his own country at a time of grief instead of peddling his own agenda/legacy.

Tom Firth

“Todt should try to be more sympathetic towards his own country at a time of grief instead of peddling his own agenda/legacy”

Agree completely, makes me ashamed of the sport.

Minor Insight


Tim C

Really Todt? Really? You’re comparing traffic accidents to the brutal slaughter of innocent people in France. It’s one thing for people to think you’re clueless. But it’s another thing to open the mouth and remove all doubt. That’s got to be the worst comment anyone could have made in light of this tragedy. Geez!

Minor Insight

Listen folks, Jean Todd realizes that if we honor the dead in Paris that we are criticizing the Sunnis – and we can’t do that because they pay for a lot of races these days. It’s as simple as that. If you watch the races and you don’t raise a hair then suck it up or turn it off. An apolitical stance is an apolitical stance and it works both ways. F1 has always been apolitical and run races in countries where social justice and freedom don’t matter. And we have all tuned in. So it’s bit late to start… Read more »

Negative Camber

Just a clarification point, it’s Todt…not Todd. I’m Todd. :)

Minor Insight

Sorry about that mate! – I have corrected. Please know I love you and I would never confuse you with the FIA geezer!

Minor Insight

Also – as I’m sure you deduced, my original post had my tongue planted firmly in my (face) cheek. Many a jest etc…


I’m going to recognize my ignorance and avoid theories on the intersection of politics and F1, don’t like to think about it and don’t understand it. But I’ll grant you this one does wonder whether there’s an alternative reason afoot, because recognizing these victims would be soooo easy, failing this way is hard to explain as an accident. Rosberg made the most passing of comments on the podium and the others said nothing. I was at West Point Saturday and when Army football takes the field they run with this big flag on a pole, and Saturday they ran with… Read more »

Minor Insight

Well as I said in my comment to Todd, it was a little tongue in cheek on the Sunnis side, that said, I totally agree with you on all points. Whatever the reason Todt behaved the way he did, it was just wrong. So 1) There is a tremendous amount of Middle Eastern money in F1. 2) Todt has consistently failed in his role with the FIA – lack of attention on regulations etc, and also selling F1 down the river with regards to his personal career involving his UN connections and safety positions. And lets all remember he was… Read more »


Rather crass on Todt´s part, though I must add it´s the first I´d heard his statement in context. Joe Saward, for one, just threw it out there on its own provoking enhanced outrage as one might expect. It is certainly a conundrum on just how to juggle this, but I keep coming to the conclusion that the horror in Paris trumps the pet project and they would well be prudent to defer it to the final event. Seems those who occupy that top spot at FIA by nature become extremely insulated as do most in any position of power. It… Read more »

Negative Camber

I didn’t read Joe’s comments but I am usually one to try and find the context of a comment. I allow for Todt’s contextual meaning in that they had planned this many moons ago and he was drawing on the pre-determined program suggesting it still warranted continuing and is a grave situation as well. I understand that. I think he could have handled it better though.

Alianora La Canta

Jean Todt could have avoided most, if not all, of this PR disaster by simply sticking to answering the question presented – something expected of the average secondary school student, let alone adults whose jobs involve answering lots of press questions.. There were plenty of other opportunities this weekend for him to shoehorn the fact that many people endure premature death on the world’s roads. No need to compare one category of disasters to another, or for anyone to be slighted. This would also have given him the space necessary to re-tool the silence to honour everyone properly and not… Read more »