Todt: F1 pedigree? Yes. F1 politico? Perhaps.

TodtThe Sunday Times ran a story suggesting that Max Mosley’s most recent tirade warning teams that he may not step down in October is merely polemics with a desire of seating Jean Todt as his successor as FIA President. The teams have hinted that this is not a desirable situation. Toyota’s John Howett said:

“From the teams’ point of view, we would like to see someone who actually is independent , perhaps independent from any of us currently or historically.”

This stands to reason if you knit the history of Jean Todt and Max Mosley together. Ferrari, often accused of having the infamous “red rule” with the FIA, has enjoyed a favorable relationship with the governing body for many years while under Jean Todt’s leadership. Jean currently is working with the FIA as president of eSafetyAware, a non-profit organization promoting the use of safety technologies in cars that is supported by the FIA.

If you read body language, you will presume that there was a rift a few years ago when Michael Schumacher retired in 2006. The distance between he and Luca di Montezemolo was palpable after winning at Monza and Schumacher couldn’t get away from Luca quick enough during post race hugs. Jean Todt, I maintain, was not happy with Ferrari’s handling of the situation and as he was close to Schumacher I doubt he liked the idea of forcing the 7-time champ out for Felipe Massa. The strain seemed to continue even after Schumacher left as Todt was still at the helm. Then the teams made changes that saw Brawn, Todt, Byrne and other key members of the miracle team leave. Ultimately Jean Todt left Ferrari and it is suggested that it was on less than amicable terms.

Does this make sense? Well, sort of. Many people are mildly surprised at Luca di Montezemolo’s hard line against Max Mosley and the FIA as Ferrari were the ones who supported Max during the sex scandal and broke ranks with the GPWC a few years ago thus scuttling a potential breakaway series back then. To see Ferrari at odds with the FIA defies conventional wisdom that the FIA favored Ferrari all these many years and why would Ferrari bite the hand that feeds? I sense that Jean Todt had a role in placating Max and the FIA while Luca is about one thing, Ferrari. If the regulations are written as to harm Ferrari, he will do what is needed to protect it. It just so happens that these same regulations also hurt the other teams so the enemy of my enemy is my friend so to speak. FOTA was formed on conventional wisdom to protect the race teams from dictatorial, nonsensical decisions so prevalent in the pas with Max Mosley.

So would Jean Todt be a good alternative to Max Mosley? The teams don’t think so with one unnamed source suggesting:

“Mosley wants someone to continue his work. Someone that can be manipulated by him — and we all know who that is.”

There was a time that I thought Todt’s F1 knowledge base and insight might be helpful but I must admit that anyone who is in camp with Max Mosley can not be trusted. I think the teams are saying just that. Give us someone who Max has not controlled or manipulated or befriended. Then we have an impartial and less politically charged governing body with which to work. I second that.

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