Aug 6th, 2012 (F1plus / Grace Cunningham).- You may know him as the guy who appears every now again at the F1 grand prix but rarely says a word to the media but there is more to Jean Todt than meets the eyes and the cameras.
Growing up Jean Todt was always passionate and interested in motorsport devoting his spare time to fixing cars but his first racing experience came as a co-driver in 1966 with his mental ability as his strongest factor which lead to him to race in rallying as a co-driver with some of the Rallying greats such as Jean-Pierre Nicholas and Hannu Mikkola. 1981 gave him his first taste of success as he claimed the manufacturers World Rally Championship Title and runner up of the drivers championship as the co-driver of Guy Frequelin. His organisational and administration skills began to shine indicating big things for him in the future.
1982 and a change in direction for Jean Todt as he took on a Director of Racing role for Peugeot who were in large financial difficulty but with Todt's organisation and strategic skills by 1984 the team were back into the WRC winning the 85 and 86 B Class titles. His rallying success continued into the Paris- Dakar Rally with four successes from 1987-1990. More success came for Todt in 1992 and 1993 winning the Le Mans 24 Hours but the big story came for Todt on the 1st July 1993. Ferrari.
Jean Todt made history as the first non Italian to ever head the Scuderia Ferrari as the General Manager of the Racing Division. When Todt arrived Ferrari had become a shell of its former glory and was yet again a team in need of repair and boy did he do it. The first win came under Todt's management at the German Grand Prix in 1994 (the first win for Ferrari in 4 years). At the end of 1995 he approached the double world champion Michael Schumacher to join Ferrari, the German could not resist in what turned out to be a fantastic working and personal partnership between the two.
1996 and Todt began to develop his 'dream' team combination bringing in Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn. 1997 and 1998 were near misses for the WDC championships but from 1999 onwards Ferrari certainly made their presence felt in the pitlane and paddock.
Five consecutive world championship titles for Schumacher from 2000-2004 saw Todt bring back to life the Italian Prancing Horse that dominates in Formula One's history. 2004 saw Todt promoted to CEO of Ferrari alongside his General Manager position which he remained doing until October 2006 in which he took the Special Advisor position at the team after the Schumacher Era was over as he retired from the sport. The sport and Jean Todt were set for major changes over the next five years.
1st January 2008 saw Stefano Domencali replace Jean Todt at the top of the Ferrari Chain followed by his resignation from the Special Advisor position however he did remain a member of the board at Ferrari until 2009. During his career at Ferrari he won 13 world titles and 98 race victories.
FIA President, Jean Todt, awarding Sebastian Vettel with his second Formula 1 Championship Trophy in 2011.
2009 saw his permeation into the FIA as he took on his role as the President of the 'eSafety Aware' which promoted the smart vehicles and safety technologies. The role however taught Jean Todt about the workings of the FIA which would come in very handy at the end of the year. After receiving support from Max Moseley who was the FIA president at the time Jean Todt elected to stand for FIA president after Moseley stepped down. He won the election with 135votes to 43 against Finnish driver Ari Vatanen and has remained there ever since.
Organisation and mental skills is a fundamental factor required for working within motor sport no matter what area of the sport it is that you want to work within. Jean Todt's career not only demonstrates this level of permeability of skills but it also shows that working in a variety of motor sport series is definitely a large positive when looking to transfer across to Formula One. His dedication to creating efficient and productive man power is incredible and teamed together with a sport which aims to be as efficient as humanly possible is an incredible partnership producing great racing as a result.