Jean Todt - Long journey from rally co-driver to the FIA presidency
Jean Todt is, without any doubt, one of the most influential and authoritative persons in the world of motorsports. In October 2009, he was elected as the president of FIA and he is still on that position, starting the third mandate in December 2017.
Co-pilot to 18 drivers
Jean Todt was born on February 25, 1946, in Pierrefort, France. After high school, he studied at School of Economics and Business in Paris. As a boy, he dreamed of becoming world class racer, but his father did not like his driving intentions. One day Jean has concluded he lacks what is needed to fulfill his dream and in 1966, he has started his career as a rally co-driver.
He participated in the World Championship rallies with almost all manufacturers until 1981 when, as a navigator to Guy Frequelin, he won the Constructors’ WRC title with Talbot. In his 15-year-long career, Jean Todt was a co-driver to 18 pilots, including Jean-Claude Andruet, Rauno Aaltonen, Jean-Luc Therier, Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Ove Andersson, Achim Warmbold, Hannu Mikkola or Timo Makinen.
From 1975 to 1981, Todt was also a member of FISA Rally commission in which he was the driver’s representative.
Todt had excellent time with Peugeot
After finishing his career as a rally navigator, Todt became Peugeot Sporting Director and founded Peugeot Talbot Sport which won two Constructors’ and Drivers’ World Rally Championships, and also four in a row Paris – Dakar rallies.
He also remained a member of the FISA Rally Commission, but this time as a constructors representative. Until the end of his work in Peugeot, the French manufacturer won two consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans races and one title in the Worlds Sports Car Championship.
Ferrari’s Formula 1 Team Principal
After leaving Peugeot in the middle of 1993, Jean Todt became Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 squad. His first wish during the time in the most popular racing squad in the world was to bring a superstar to the Scuderia and his first pick was Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian wanted to join Ferrari in 1994, but that was too early for Todt as he had other drivers under contract. Senna joined Williams that year and crashed in Imola.
Under his leadership, Ferrari won a total of 14 Formula 1 titles and 106 Grand Prix races until 2008. His cooperation with Michael Schumacher soon become one of the most successful in the history of the sport and they later became close friends and partners in the ICM, Brain and spinal cord research group and Institute in Paris.
Rise through hierarchy
Todt’s rise in Ferrari’s hierarchy was quick, so until the end of deployment he also was responsible for all motorsports activities of the Ferrari-Maserati group, he became a member of the Board of Directors, then was named a General Manager of Ferrari and finally Chief Executive Officer of the company.
In March 2008, he decided to leave his position of CEO while maintaining that of Member of the Board, Advisor to the Chairman and also maintaining that of President of Ferrari West Europe and Ferrari Asia Pacific. In March 2009, he ceased any occupation at Ferrari.
Six months later, Jean Todt is elected President of FIA, with a support of outgoing president Max Mosley. Todt was re-elected for a new four-year term in December 2013 when his opponent was former rally driver from Finland, Ari Vatanen.Todt’s third mandate started in December 2017.
Todt’s main focus as a president of FIA was drivers’ safety, which is not a surprise as he worked as a promoter of the latest safety technologies and smart vehicles before he became FIA president.
Jean Todt has received numerous awards
For his work Todt received numerous awards and honors. He is an Honorary member of the Automobile Club de France, Member of the French Sports Academy and Academy of Technologies, as well the Honorary President of Motorsport Federation of San Marino. Moreover, he is a Member of the Board of Directors of Edmond de Rothschild SA, Member of the Board of Directors of the De la Ville Modern Art Museum in Paris and a Member of Sotheby’s International Advisory Board.
He was also honored with Grand’Croix of the Legion d’Honneur of the French Republic and also was rewarded with national order medals in San Marino, Ukraine, Senegal, Bahrain, Italy, and Russia. In 2015, Jean Todt was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General as his Special Envoy for Road Safety.
Todt also appeared as an actor
Jean Todt is the father of Nicolas, co-owner of the ART Grand Prix GP2 team and manager of many well-known drivers like Felipe Massa. Since 2004, Todt’s partner has been famous actress Michelle Yeoh who was also involved in many safe-driving campaigns. Together with Michael Schumacher, Todt also has appeared in the movie Asterix at the Olympic Games released in 2008 where he played race director of a chariot driver Schumix.