F1 » Todt: F1 has a headache, not a cancer

FIA President Jean Todt says he doesn’t believe F1 requires ‘big changes’ going forward to ensure it remains popular, insisting its current issues are being ‘cured’. In a wide ranging interview with selection of reporters, including, Todt was pressed on a number of topics across motorsport, most specifically the current state of F1, its future direction and the FIA’s role in assuring it.

Indeed, in the wake of the Austrian Grand Prix, in which several figures noted a ‘negative’ tone associated with the sport regarding the technical regulations and the overall spectacle of F1, Todt outlined his blueprint for F1 going forward.

However, though he admitted F1 was ‘not perfect’ at the moment, he maintains it is not facing a crisis by any stretch.

“I love motorsport, I love Formula One, but sometimes sincerely I don’t understand because I feel Formula One is a great category of motorsport, probably the pinnacle of motorsport,” he said. “If you ask me ‘Can it be better?’ The answer is yes. I think the morning you wake up – whoever it is – and say ‘we are the best’, I don’t think it’s a clever person who can say that. Every morning you wake up you must have the motivation: ‘What can we improve?’

“I don’t think we are facing a cancer,” he said. “We are facing a headache. So we need to find prescription for the headache. I disagree that we have to cure a cancer. In a way, the headache is on the way to be cured. We don’t need big changes. I don’t think F1 needs big changes. And if it would need big changes, then honestly I need to have some input. I need to know where it is, because I don’t know where it is.

Indeed, Todt admits he is concerned about the negativity surrounding F1 at the moment, saying it will have the effect of turning off viewers and deterring both sponsors and potential new teams.

“In theory you may discourage people to follow the sport, which is no good – people think if it is so bad they will not see it. It may discourage sponsors, because if you are a big company and you want to invest in motor sport you will say ‘Why should I invest if I hear people are not happy?’

“Then it should discourage potential new comers in Formula One, because if you are a big brand and you want to be involved in motor sport and you’re interested in motor sport, but if you see there is this lack of harmony, then probably you will reconsider investing.”

As for how F1 can improve, Todt says proposals to make the cars faster, more aggressive and more difficult to drive are being considered, but says teams must accept ways to be ‘better players or better losers’ as a result.

“If we can just try to adapt to do some things that are easily achievable, we should all discuss about it and put a proposal. I’m not saying I have given up, I really hope we can find that, and then people should in a way be better players or better losers and say okay, here at least I am decided, I am committed and I am not going to threaten anybody and my challenge is to make sure I do the best for the first time or again.

“You take a team like Williams, they were nowhere two years ago and I think they simply decided they were going to reconsider their team and their organisation, I don’t think they have increased in a crazy way their financial side, they have simply done a better job.

“Of course money is important, but it’s not only a question of money, you have top manufacturers who were in Formula One they have the biggest budget and eight or ten years ago they did not win a race. That’s why they got discouraged and they left. Of course if you are not winning and you have invested a lot of money it is discouraging.”