Analysis: Could Todt be poised for shock Ferrari F1 return?

FIA president Jean Todt has been reticent so far about what he plans to do once his tenure ends later this month.

Analysis: Could Todt be poised for shock Ferrari F1 return?
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But after a career that has included success in rallying, sportscars and F1, plus three-terms at the helm of motor racing’s governing body, it was unlikely he would simply walk away from the sport.

A report in Corriere della Sera on Wednesday pointed, however, to one potential avenue that could be Todt’s focus over the next few years: a sensational return to Ferrari in a super consultant type role once his FIA successor is declared on December 17.

The story suggests that Todt has been in constant contact with Ferrari president John Elkann about the idea of taking up some advisory role at his former team.

It may not be a coincidence that Todt was in Maranello a few days ago to support the second edition of the ‘Girls on Track - Rising Stars’ initiative promoted by the FIA.

Any potential role for Todt at Ferrari would reconnect the team to its winning past, with the Frenchman having delivered a total of 14 drivers’ and constructors’ titles during a tenure as team principal and then CEO at the squad from 1993 to 2009.

It is suggested that Todt could take on a role that would allow Elkann to delegate certain political functions in the management of the Scuderia, such as the discussion of the 2026 regulations, without taking away any of the responsibilities of team boss Mattia Binotto.

In fact, it could serve to help Binotto in being able to focus on more immediate performance as the Scuderia bids to get back to winning ways in 2022.

Jean Todt, Ferrari Sporting Director

Jean Todt, Ferrari Sporting Director

Photo by: Sutton Images

It was notable that Elkann did not consider Todt for the Ferrari CEO role after Louis Camilleri's departure last year, perhaps feeling that a 75-year-old figure was not the right one to lead the future of the brand in a delicate phase amid the automotive shift to electric power.

However, the potential role for Todt now would be different, with a more external but politically relevant role in the Maranello organisation chart, in a period when getting the right outcome to the framing of the 2026 engine rules will be critical.

Those in favour of Todt's return to Maranello recognise that the Frenchman has great political power in the world of motorsport, and he has extensive knowledge of how the sport works.

Let's not forget the friendship that binds him to Stefano Domenicali, the current F1 CEO who replaced him as Ferrari team principal. Furthermore, Todt’s son Nicolas is the manager of Charles Leclerc.

Some compare Todt's possible role in Ferrari to that which the late Niki Lauda went through twice in his career – once at Maranello and once at Mercedes.

The first spell was as Luca di Montezemolo's right-hand man in the restructuring of Ferrari in the early 1990s. This was when Todt’s own cycle in command began in 1993. At that time, Lauda had no operational role and the initiative proved to be a failure.

But Lauda’s later experience at Mercedes was different. He was appointed as non-executive chairman of the F1 team and was a brilliant right-hand man to Toto Wolff – and his commitment was ensured as he took a shareholding in the squad.

But could Todt bring enough to Ferrari to justify an involvement? Those who shake their heads at the idea suggest it makes no sense to recall a former team boss from an era that the squad has moved on from.

Ultimately, though, bringing Todt back to Ferrari is a decision only Elkann will know makes sense or not.

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