Mosley backs Todt


The Formula One teams’ lack of enthusiasm for Max Mosley’s choice of successor as FIA president was made clear by the sound of silence. As Mosley was lauding Jean Todt (in pic), the former Ferrari chief executive officer, as the best man for the job, the teams responded by keeping their own counsel.

That wall of silence confirmed a deep-rooted suspicion that Todt is the favoured successor largely because he thinks like Mosley and, perhaps more worryingly for the teams, may act like him too. In a letter to all the FIA member clubs, outlining the fact that he will not be running for re-election in October, Mosley has fully endorsed Todt as his preferred choice of successor. He says he hopes the clubs will agree with his judgment and feel able to offer their support by voting for the former Ferrari team principal. Not that Mosley will be completely absenting himself from the FIA scene.

As a former president he will be entitled to a seat on the senate of the governing body and confirmed recently that he hopes to continue playing a role in the governance of motorsport. Formula One insiders hope that Mosley’s support for Todt will not frighten off the other prospective candidate, the former world rally champion and member of the European parliament Ari Vatanen who announced his intention to run during the German Grand Prix.

“I believe the right person to head that (FIA) would be Jean Todt,” said Mosley. “Jean is unquestionably the outstanding motorsport manager of his generation, and arguably of any generation. Teams run by him have won the world rally championship, cross-country rallies including the Paris-Dakar, the Le Mans 24-hours and, in the last 15 years, one F1 world championship after another.”

There can be little argument with that, particularly bearing in mind that the FIA presidency involves every aspect of the automobile and the automobile industry in modern life, not just Formula One and the other strands of the sport.

Yet it has traditionally been Formula One where the governing body has manned the barricades and earned its reputation, rightly or wrongly, as an authoritarian and often unsympathetic administrator.

Todt joined Ferrari as sporting director in 1994 and went on to mastermind five of Michael Schumacher’s seven world championship victories. He also tempted the former Benetton technical director, Ross Brawn, to follow Schumacher to the Italian team and create a winning combination, which pretty much held a stranglehold on the Formula One winners’ circle for a decade.

Alan Henry/ © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009