Ferrari turns down Todt reunion despite F1 title-winning past - MPH


There will be no Jean Todt/Ferrari reunion in 2022 despite high-level talks about a new role for the Frenchman


Todt oversaw the most successful period in Ferrari's F1 history but won't be returning to the team

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Ferrari’s Executive Chairman John Elkann has reportedly decided against the company re-employing outgoing FIA president Jean Todt, who last served the Scuderia from 1993-2008. A ‘super-consultant’ role had been envisaged which would have formed a bridge between the corporate and F1 parts of the operation, something which initially found favour with both Elkann and team principal Mattia Binotto.

It would have been a controversial move for the recent president of the governing body to transfer directly to one of the teams, especially given the behind-the-scenes scuppering of Toto Wolff’s ambition to head up FOM a couple of years ago, something to which Ferrari was deeply opposed.

There is a lot of turbulence at corporate Ferrari at the moment, with various firings and movements, but for now it seems not to be affecting the Scuderia. Having Todt there forming the link to the corporate side would have freed up Binotto in keeping Elkann – who is not a racing man and is also CEO of the whole automotive holding company of which a slice of Ferrari is just a small part – apprised of plans and progress.

But after being discussed at corporate level, Elkann has reportedly changed his mind, leaving 75-year-old Todt definitively free to spend his time on other projects dear to his heart.


Todt and Elkann had been in discussions over a return but the Frenchman will not be coming back

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Todt and Ferrari actually have quite star-crossed paths. He was absolutely instrumental in the astronomical Schumacher years. Those two plus Ross Brawn were a forcefield who could not be split, who kept Luca Montezemolo out of the nitty-gritty of the team while allowing him the glory. Once Brawn had made it known he’d be taking a break at the end of ’06, Montezemolo chose to effectively replace Schumacher, pushing him towards his first retirement – and before very much longer Todt was out too. Not on the greatest of terms, either.

Montezemolo had got his wish of a more home-grown team but had broken up the greatest partnership F1 had ever seen to do it.

When Todt became President of the FIA in 2009, cynics shook their heads and recited the hackneyed ‘Ferrari International Assistance’ joke. But it was quite the opposite. They were on far from great terms with each other, though they each realised how much damage they could mutually inflict so the enmity never spilled out into the open. But it was a chilly relationship. It thawed somewhat after Montezemolo left but still it was Todt in charge at the FIA when Ferrari was publicly humiliated over its 2019 interpretation of the fuel flow regulations. Todt even went on record about his belief in their guilt but admitted there was not enough evidence to make any disqualification or fine stick.

From the archive

We will maybe one day know what the terms were of the ‘private agreement’ reached between the FIA and Ferrari over the matter, but we can be sure it involved a lot of very heated and serious heavyweight discussion. Perhaps it was during that time that Todt and Ferrari reached a rapprochement through Elkann. They each know where the bodies are buried in their storied histories.

It illustrates that in F1 alliances are usually only of the moment, invariably when aligned in joint or overlapping aims. But it also underlines that Binotto is in a position quite unique in Ferrari history. Previously, the link with parent company Fiat always made the team principal position there about as secure as a premiership football manager’s. Today Fiat is just part of the Stellantis group which in turn is part of the holding company Exor. Exor owns only 24% of Ferrari. Since Ferrari was partly privatised a few years ago, the link to Fiat is less umbilical and the importance of the team’s success – and therefore the pressure – to the bigger company has reduced. The move away from the internal combustion engine in the automotive field has only further lessened the sensitivity about the Scuderia’s on track performances.

It should therefore be more feasible for the team boss to create the stable environment essential to long term success. The sort of environment that Todt, Brawn and Schumacher created back in the days when Ferrari ruled on track. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Binotto even without the help of his old boss Todt.