The Todt Effect?
Like many fans, the multi-faceted aspect of Formula One appeals to me as much as the racing. The many technological and safety innovations introduced each year and even the politics behind the decision making process all combine to make this a fascinating sport to follow. By this time last season there had already been a couple of major scandals to make the F1 news headlines, whilst it was great to discuss the politics behind those issues I’d have to wonder if part of the reason for so much antagonism and media column inches was down to the former President of the FIA, Max Mosley.
Obviously the President has to act with the issues put in front of him. It could be said that the diffuser debate and the banning of Lewis Hamilton in Australia for example, were not of his doing, he just had to deal with the aftermath of them. But rather than just adjudicate on the issues at hand and move on, Mosley managed to turn them into a full smorgasbord of media frenzy by repeated statements to the press keeping those issues in the news. Six months on from his departure he still wants to be the centre of attention. Though his recent interview in F1 Racing magazine was in response to readers’ questions, he still managed to mention the “very weak character” of Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo and question his successor Jean Todt’s ability to lead the FIA. There is obviously still an appetite for newsbytes from Mosley but I’d question whether he was a wise to take part in the interview, is he really so insecure that he can’t just retire gracefully?
It seems so much quieter this year on the political front. Perhaps there haven’t been as many issues to deal with or perhaps it’s the Todt effect? In contract, the new President is a man who seems to be happy under his own skin and who doesn’t need to go running to the press at every opportunity; a man who is comfortable enough to delegate and share the load, to take advice and deal with the situation accordingly, not unilaterally.
Haven’t you noticed how much smoother and transparent the stewarding process is for example? The appointment of a former driver to the panel at each race seems to me at least to have given their decision making process some credence. Sure it’s still not perfect, but there does appear to be a change of attitude, one where awarding penalties for every little indiscretion or racing incident is not the norm, instead we now have a more considered and measured approach where the race winner is decided on the track and not via some penalty. A quick look through the penalties for last season compared to those so far this year shows subtle differences in the approach taken.
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Todt. Even though I’m not sure I agree with his decision to overturn the lifetime ban on Briatore for his part in the Singapore 2008 race fix scandal, you have to admit he dealt with the situation in a matter of fact way, drawing a line under the beast and moving on… something that the former President had failed to achieve. I’ve been impressed at his leadership thus far and reckon that the FIA is in good hands, though only time will tell…