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The appointment of former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt as FIA president in in 2009 was seen by many as likely to herald a bright new era after the many scandals which dogged the tenure of his predecessor Max Mosley. There have indeed been fewer scandals since Todt took over but one person in particular isn't happy with the results.
According to F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone; "Jean Todt is a poor man's Max" who "has been travelling around the world doing what Max didn't do too much - kissing the babies and shaking the hands. From that point of view it is probably good for the FIA but we don't need it in Formula One."
Ecclestone's surprising claim is made in a report in today's Express newspaper by Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt. It is surprising since Ecclestone was a strong supporter of Todt before his election and championed him over rival candidate former rally champion Ari Vatanen. In 2009 Ecclestone told Sylt that "I don't know enough about Vatanen. As far as I'm concerned there's a question mark on him but I know Todt."
However, with the benefit of hindsight Ecclestone has become less enthusiastic about Todt and says that he has "not so much had a positive effect on Formula One."
There are concrete reasons for Ecclestone's views and they revolve around the changes that the FIA is foisting on F1. In particular, Ecclestone describes Todt's efforts to make the sport more environmentally friendly as a "complete joke."
For the past four years F1 cars have used 2.4 litre V8 engines which come close to 1,000bhp with fuel consumption during the races of around 4mpg. However, in 2013 they are due to switch to a smaller 1.6 litre turbo engine but Ecclestone says "it's not Formula One. It doesn't sound anything like Formula One."
He believes that F1 doesn't need to make an effort to show that it is conserving energy because "we don't use any energy in Formula One for a start."
This year teams will be allowed to use the KERS energy recovery device which was trialled in 2009 but didn't take off. The system transforms the energy created by braking into additional thrust which can be used under acceleration. It was designed to increase overtaking but failed to have the desired effect and Ecclestone says "it has just cost an awful lot of money and I don't know what it has proven. I don't think anyone knows or cares what it is or what it does. I get upset with these things."
As an additional measure to increase overtaking this year drivers will be able to press a button on the steering wheel to alter the position of the rear wings on their cars. This should reduce drag and improve cars' overtaking ability. However it can only be used under certain circumstances so is likely to add further confusion to F1's famously complex regulations.
"We should write the rules with the teams. The competitors have got to race and have got a big investment. We have got a big investment. We should write the rules, give them to the FIA and they should make sure they are followed. It should be like the police - the police don't write the rules and say you've got to do 30 miles an hour," says Ecclestone adding "the FIA is a joke."
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