Todt: F1's issues overblown

25/06/2015
NEWS STORY

Eight races in to a season which has been totally dominated by Mercedes, at a time when all and sundry are having a pop at the sport pointing to falling viewer numbers, lack of new sponsors and empty seats in the stands, the FIA president has been conspicuous by his absence.

Whilst he has attended races, little has been heard of him indeed, we have heard more from Max Mosley who stood down as president in 2009.

All that changed today when, appreciating that there is a need to address the issue, Jean Todt met with journalists in Paris.

"I don't think we are facing a cancer, we are facing a headache," he said, according to ESPN, "so we need to find a prescription for the headache. I disagree that we have to cure a cancer.

"In a way, the headache is on the way to being cured," he continued. "We don't need big changes. I don't think F1 needs big changes. And if it would need big changes, then honestly I need to have some input. I need to know where the problem is, because I don't know where it is.

"So if you present me a patient and he tells me he has a headache, and I give him a prescription for cancer, then I cannot!"

Referring to the Strategy Group, which has been widely criticised as not being worthwhile, indeed, unfit for purpose, he said: "They are making a big story about the Strategy Group. I have read quite often that it should be FIA or FOM to decide (the rules). Again, I am quite happy to sit with Bernie and to decide what could be good for the sport, but again we need to be sure that it is good for the sport.

"Those who claim that they should not be involved and that it should be the FIA and the commercial rights holder to decide, they will be the first to shout and saying 'They are not following the right governance procedures. They did not consult us'," he added, clearly referring to Christian Horner's suggestion that the teams should have no say in the framing of the rules.

"So there is a way to do that. If they keep saying that it should be us to decide, then I should ask for an official mandate. I will have that in writing. So okay, if they want it, give us an official mandate and then we will see how they react. It is a lot of talking. Myself, I don't say it is good or bad, but I am not a big talker. Normally, I prefer to act and do things."

As the teams look to rework the regulations for 2017, with the aim not only of making F1 more exciting for fans but also, hopefully, closing the performance gap between the teams, the Frenchman warned that those who are not winning will always criticise the regulations.

"In 1993 we had the problem with brakes we had the problem with tyre wear and we had the problem of being careful with the fuel," he said, though at that time he was running Peugeot Talbot Sport. "So It's not something which has just come in, but does it mean we should not consider it. If the answer was let's give 5kg more of fuel, I don't have any problem. But at the moment if you have some bitter drivers and you ask them if they are happy, they will say no. That is the truth. If you have a sincere discussion about why is that guy not happy it's because he's not winning.

"If you ask Hamilton if he's happy right now he will not be happy. If you ask Rosberg if he's happy, he will be very happy," he said, a reference to their result in Austria last weekend. "And vice versa at the previous race. But again, it is a fact of life, you are happy if you have success and you are not happy if you don't have success. Then we have the way of communicating and the way of hiding.

"People say, 'Yes, but it's boring to have Mercedes (winning all the time)'. I agree, as a sport enthusiast I would love to have a kind of undefined starting grid. But if you are the best, if you do a better job.

"Red Bull and Vettel, were they annoyed about the domination? I remember a few years ago - I think in Singapore - I was shocked because I think he was 1.5s faster than the second best. Then before that it was Ferrari domination, and I remember I joined Ferrari and thought 'where is Ferrari going to be'. A few years after, people are saying 'We are so fed up, we don't watch TV now because we know the result before the start of the race'.

"So the prescription would be to have as many competitive teams as possible, and to have from one race to another a different particular winner.

"If you take all the other sport, I mean football I'm no expert but I think Bayern Munich were winning the last ten championships. Now in France PSG are winning. In the UK it's changed a little more but it's always between two or three teams. In golf you had Tiger Woods, now you have a new American guy coming up. Rafael Nadal won nine times in a row at Roland Garros. You take Novak Djokovic, he's almost unbeatable. Usain Bolt, for a couple of years he has not lost the 100 metres. That's a fact in sport, and if you want to beat them you must be better.

“So I simply hope - and with all the respect I have for Mercedes - that somebody gets better."

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Published: 25/06/2015
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