When Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo approached Jean Todt in 1993 and asked him to become team principal of the Italian outfit, the Frenchman was quick to take up the offer. A proven people-manager in the world of rallying and the Peugeot ...
When Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo approached Jean Todt in 1993 and asked him to become team principal of the Italian outfit, the Frenchman was quick to take up the offer. A proven people-manager in the world of rallying and the Peugeot sportscar programme, culminating in victory at Le Mans in 1992, the diminutive Todt was given a short, yet important brief -- do whatever is necessary to get Ferrari back into the winners circle.
For a handful of seasons prior to Todt's appointment, the Maranello concern had been in a state of turmoil, which showed no sign of improving. In-team politics ruled and as a result, Ferrari found itself struggling to compete with the major teams during seasons that had promised so much yet delivered very little.
Todt quickly realised that the in-team misgivings had to be quashed, and that a family environment was needed. Additionally, he knew that to further improve his chances of leading Ferrari back to the top step of the podium he had to employ the most talented members of the pitlane at that time. Cue the likes of Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne…
Since the four men first worked together for the 1997 season the Prancing Horse has learned to gallop quicker year by year and is, at present, a runaway thoroughbred. In recognition of Todt's achievements, di Montezemolo and the Ferrari board of directors recently assigned the role of managing director to the Frenchman.
"I have the advantage of running an extraordinary team where everyone has a well defined role," commented Todt. "So it will be a new personal challenge to try to be managing director of Ferrari having been the director of the racing team."
"It's something very gratifying, and when you're a Frenchman, you certainly couldn't expect to become managing director of a company like Ferrari. I will try and justify the choice made by Luca di Montezemolo and by the directors."
He continued: "I will run the company, not just Formula One. I will run all Ferrari. I think we're very well organised, and everybody has a position and we're not going to change anything on the sporting side."
Eager to silence those who have suggested the news will cause upset within the Italian camp, Todt was adamant that nothing will change: "I will still come to the races."
Some speculate that the appointment will destabilise Ferarri and Michael Schumacher's quest for a seventh world title, as Todt extends his focus beyond the team. "Time will tell," the Frenchman concluded.