Jean Todt, former General Manager of Scuderia Ferrari from 1994 to 2007, and current President of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), admits that he was pleasantly surprised by Sebastian Vettel‘s win at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix and hopes that the Maranello side can continue to fight with Mercedes for Formula One victories during the 2017 season: “It is good, because a competitive Ferrari team is essential for Formula One.” – Jean Todt said, as reported by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
The FIA president also said that Mercedes is obviously “still very strong” this year: “There has been controversy about the choice of second driver (Valtteri Bottas), but I never had any doubts about him. The real problem is another: the gap between the first car and the last.” – Jean Todt added, before commenting on the cause of that problem, which in his opinion is the discrepancy in budgets between the biggest and smallest teams. One solution, as presented by the former Ferrari boss, would be to clamp down on the sort of simulation tools the most sophisticated teams now use: “In my day, it was a miracle if you did 5 or 6 laps on the first test day. Now they are doing 70-80 laps without stopping once.” – said the former Ferrari chief.
Regarding his current activity, Jean Todt added that the detailed work behind the scenes has been “fascinating”, however “in Formula 1 we need emotions, action and entertainment on the track, not in the laboratory”. We need a different redistribution of income, but it is not our problem – the new owners will take care of this and I think it is clearly a priority for them.” – the French motor sport executive explained, as reported by the Italian newspaper on Thursday.
In the end Jean Todt played down early worries about a lack of overtaking in the 2017 Formula One season, after the regulation changes for the new championship which seem to make overtaking more difficult: “Let’s say that it’s the price you pay for the fastest cars in the corners and straights that are now more difficult to drive. I am sure that Ross Brawn as well as the FIA will address this topic, but for now I will just mention that the overtaking problem has always been there.” – former CEO and Special Advisor at Ferrari concluded.