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Todt's first hurdles

NEWS STORY
03/11/2009

Just a few days into his new job, FIA president Jean Todt faces his first major hurdles, choosing a new tyre supplier to replace Bridgestone and an F1 Commissioner acceptable to the teams.

Bridgestone's departure has come as a major shock to the sport, and many still believe it heralds the total withdrawal of Japanese involvement in F1, though we will know more in the coming days when Toyota announces its plans for 2010 and beyond.

When the Bridgestone announcement was first made public, Pitpass wondered whether perhaps Cosworth might be persuaded to step into the breach, with one pitlane insider cheekily suggesting that Max's plan all along was for F1 to become a one make series using Ford 1600cc engines which can last all season, no slicks and no wings.

Having been treated so badly last time around it is highly unlikely that Michelin will want to return for second helpings, while Goodyear doesn't appear to have suffered too badly from being away from F1 for the last 11 seasons.

Therefore, one has to look, much like Bernie Ecclestone, to the East, after all, wasn't Korean manufacturer Kumho preparing an F1 feasibility study back in 2004? And with Korea due to host a round of the World Championship what better time to enter the sport?

That said, one has to ask what is actually in it for the tyre manufacturers, especially in light of the treatment meted out to Michelin. Despite the many millions (billions?) invested, there is little worthwhile publicity, especially when it comes to man on the street, while, devoid, of a tyre war, not to mention constant tinkering with the rules, there is little opportunity to demonstrate true one's true competitiveness or innovation.

In addition to finding a new tyre supplier, Mr Todt must live up to the promise made in his election manifesto and appoint a dedicated F1 Commissioner.

There are some who fear that the Frenchman might stick two fingers up at Planet Paddock and appoint Max Mosley, while those that insist FIA stands for Ferrari International Assistance are waiting, fingers on their mice and logged in to their favourite message board, should Michael Schumacher be given the nod.

As for the teams, their concern is that Todt gives the job to Alan Donnelly, one of several controversial appointments during Mosley's reign.

While Schumacher and various other F1 'celebrities' were falling over themselves in their eagerness to give their support to Todt in the run-up to the election, the silence from the teams was deafening. Even when the inevitable result was announced the response from FOTA was polite but muted.

The teams have already made known their feelings regarding Donnelly, official representative of the President during Mosley's reign, having called for his roles as 'special advisor' and chief steward be split, claiming that the two represented a distinct conflict of interest.

There is also concern that his company, Sovereign Strategy, which is based at the same London address as the FIA Foundation - the FIA's charitable arm - allegedly helped organize Manor Motorsport's public-relations strategy, albeit on a pro-bono basis.

In June, the teams voiced their concern when Donnelly escorted a senior Manor executive at the Turkish Grand Prix, two weeks before the British outfit was unveiled as one of the successful bidders for a slot on the 2010 grid.

For those waiting to see whether Todt is his own man or, as many still believe, a continuation of the Mosley dynasty, all eyes will be on the Frenchman to see how he deals with these first two issues under his leadership of the sport.

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