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FIA gives Jean Todt a third term as president: Innovation the name of the game

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FIA gives Jean Todt a third term as president: Innovation the name of the game
Dec 8, 2017, 12:33 PM

Jean Todt was re-elected as president of the FIA at the General Assembly in Paris today and promised to put Innovation at the heart of his final fo...

Jean Todt was re-elected as president of the FIA at the General Assembly in Paris today and promised to put Innovation at the heart of his final four years in the role.

The 71 year old will establish an Innovation Fund to encourage fresh ideas and new thinking across the motorsport and mobility sectors.

One idea that has been brought in for 2018 F1 season and is likely to receive some push back from fans is the 'halo' head protection system for the F1 cars. Many teams and drivers are unhappy about its appearance as are many fans, but Todt and his safety staff insist that it is here to stay and that everyone will get used to it in time.

The FIA is engaged in a process with F1's owners Liberty Media of shaping the sport and its product from 2021 onwards. This involves deciding what changes to make to the power unit regulations, how to introduce and police some kind of budget cap and also to define the aerodynamic regulations so that the cars car race each other closely on track.

There is a tough negotiation ahead, particularly on the Liberty side over money. Todt has shown over the first two terms of his presidency that he is inclined to be "hands off" when it comes to F1, which has frustrated some senior paddock figures, who would have preferred him to confront some of the issues head-on. In that sense he has been unlike his predecessor Max Mosley; preferring instead to intervene when necessary.

Whereas the relationship between the FIA and the commercial rights holder was quite dysfunctional in the days when Bernie Ecclestone held the role opposite Todt, the signs so far are that Liberty and the FIA are well aligned on many issues and there is a constant two way dialogue between St James' Market, London and Geneva.

"From time to time there are some who challenge this role, and I remind them that Motor Sport will always need a regulator, it will always need fair play, it will always require ethics, and it will always need an independent referee," said Todt in his acceptance speech. "This is the vital role the FIA plays and one it will continue to play in the future."

Earlier this year in an interview I did with Todt, I pointed out that he was the 'last man standing' - in a day to day role - out of that group of F1 powerbrokers, who dominated the sport in the 1990s and 2000s; Montezemolo, Ecclestone, Dennis, Briatore, Williams.

"It is true, in a way I am proud to be able to compete for 50 years in motor racing in different categories and with some good achievements.

“Remaining humble, I think in a way they were essential for me and I was essential for them,” says Todt. “Mainly for one, di Montezemolo. I think he probably took the risk of hiring me but I think he got something back. Again, life has to be a good balance.

"And the same with Bernie – he needed Ferrari, it is the biggest name in motor racing, so you need to have a strong Ferrari to create interest. And Bernie was nice enough to believe in me and I think I have demonstrated that I did not disappoint him.”

“The most difficult period to assess and to judge is the most recent one because when you are a competitor you are first, second, tenth, retired, good or bad.

“Here (as FIA president) it is very difficult to assess the job you do. It is much less rational but it happens in a lot of activities. That’s probably the good thing about racing, because you see the result. Here you have fights or competitions but they are judged in a different way.”

What would you like to see Jean Todt do with regards to F1 in his next presidency? Leave your comments in the section below

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