F1 Todt: “Ferrari is back fast, people have to understand that. Binotto resist”

The former Ferrari team principal and president of the FIA ​​in Trento: “My return to the Red team? They also say about Juve … You win with excellence that is difficult to achieve and maintain. At the Fia the guiding star was the security. People didn’t want the halo, I imposed it. Verstappen like Schumacher? He has the same determination. ”

by the correspondent Mario Salvini

– trento

Jean Todt is a mine of ideas, considerations, points of view, newspaper headlines, too. In the hour spent in the Sala Depero, at the Sport Festival, he touched on many topics. Starting with Ferrari. And how, under his direction, in 2000 she had returned to victory. “Ferrari – he said – was the best chapter of my career. But today I live things differently. I have a lot of respect for the excellent work that other teams do as well. It was difficult, but it was good. And for me difficult and beautiful are concepts that go together, because beauty depends a lot on the difficulty of what you have done. This is how satisfaction is generated ”. But the question about the rumor of a possible return of him did not leave many chances. “I would have a doubt if it was real news. But there is a lot of news underneath that is not true. I had a breakfast in Turin with Andrea Agnelli. Many have seen me and many have thought that I should have worked with… Juve ”. General laughter. “It is obvious that when I was president of the FIA ​​I often heard from John Elkann. And we have often talked about Ferrari’s ambitions. But there is a difference between talking, sharing hopes, and working together. I think that the chapters are made to pass from one to the other ”.

binotto advice

So we tried to give some advice to today’s Ferrari. In this case to Mattia Binotto. “Each era is different, I don’t want to give advice. It is easy to give advice. The only one I can give him is to resist. And then now Ferrari is doing very well. It seems to me that people are not fully aware of this. Ferrari is back to winning. I think everyone… well, almost everyone, we would like to see Ferrari win championships, not just a few races. We can hope so for next year, because this year I don’t think it’s possible anymore. But to win you need excellence at all levels. It is difficult to reach it, and even more difficult to maintain it. It starts with excellence in detail. From the one who answers the phone in the company. If a company does not answer the phone after ten rings, that is not a good company. You cannot make two identical mistakes, if it happens it means that there is something to change ”.


An issue that Todt is very close to is that of safety. “It is part of the evolution of racing, but also of road cars. Once people went to races as they did to bullfights: they wanted to see a pilot, a man, injured. The riders had helmets that not even a cyclist would wear today. Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda fought for safety. When I was elected president of the FIA, I immediately put safety as the first point, not only for racing, even at street level. It is not always easy, because people are reluctant to change. The episodes that made me think of the Halo (the pilots ‘head protection system) were the one that involved Massa in Budapest and the one in which Surtees’ son lost his life. People didn’t want the Halo. I asked the engineers: “Does this save pilots’ lives? Yes, they answered me. And then I imposed it. The only thing we can say is that we have wasted some time on it ”.

schumi and verstappen

Does Max Verstappen look like Michael Schumacher? “Well, Michael I know him very well, Max not. Max like Michael is very determined, very aggressive. Michael off the track is a wonderful person. I don’t know about Max, I can’t tell. Now I see him all focused on racing, rightly so. Then, of course, both had great cars at their disposal, because to win every driver, however exceptional, needs a competitive car “.


“Charles is already a great champion. He is still missing something, I hope he has it soon …” Federica Masolin: “So he misses his car?” And Todt: “Something is missing…”.

me and the schumacher family

“For me it is a privilege to be close, in the family with Michael, with Corinna, with Mick and Gina. Their life changed on December 29, 2013. They have to live everything differently. The important thing is that there is the closeness of friends. And of Keep Fighting, their foundation. They are things that are part of life is that they are more important than results and our beloved races. Life, for everyone, is not just racing “.

the ferrari season

“At a certain point, Ferrari had the best car in the championship. Then they lost certain opportunities, I think of the strategy, of a Safety Car that entered at the wrong time, of reliability problems. Several episodes that had a cost. “We need to reflect to prevent them from happening again. Never leave anything for granted. And if you manage not to leave anything for granted, then there will be all the ingredients to be champions”.

team orders

“In Schumacher’s time there wasn’t a number one or two driver: he’s Irvine, he’s Barrichello, he’s Messa, they always started on a par, with the same treatment. Then after four or five races the results talked about”.


“I have five: the five championships that we should have won at Ferrari and we didn’t win. And then we made mistakes, but it’s human: who doesn’t make mistakes?”.


“Proud is a word that I don’t like. I am proud of my wife, of my son. For the rest it takes humility. What I have done does not make me proud, it makes me motivated. The thing that makes me happier, then, is the medical foundation I founded on the brain and spinal cord, on diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. A center that now has 750 researchers, we are the second largest neuroscience center in the world. I did”.


“Each year 1.3 million people die on the streets of the world. In Italy 4000 per year. We face the race like Covid. The whole world wore the mask because it was afraid. So, we have to use seat belts, no to the phone, no respect for limits, no alcohol. Caution, because you die on the street ”. Then Jean Todt said goodbye to Trento, he left for Milan, where he will fly to Athens. Where he is launching a program to give driving licenses to refugees. To help them find a job “.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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