Former Ferrari Team Principal and FIA President Jean Todt is a mine of ideas, point of views and opinions, that are sometimes controversial.
During his appearance at Trento’s Sports Festival, he touched upon several different topics. Starting with Ferrari and how, under his leadership, it had returned to victory in the early 2000s.
“Ferrari was the most beautiful chapter of my career,” he said. “But today I live things differently. I have a lot of respect for the work of excellence that other teams do. It was difficult, but it was beautiful.
“And for me difficult and beautiful are concepts that go together, because the beautiful depends a lot on the difficulty of what you have done. And that's how satisfaction is generated”.
But when asked about the rumors of his possible return, he didn't leave much chance. "I doubt that it was true news. […] There is a lot of news coming up that is not true. I had a breakfast in Turin with Andrea Agnelli. So many saw me and so many thought I should work with...Juve."
“Obviously, being the FIA president, I often talked to John Elkann. And we spoke often about Ferrari's ambitions. But there's a difference between talking, sharing hopes, and working together. I think the two things are meant to stay separate”, he concluded.
Given his super-partisan role, Todt was asked what he would recommend to Mattia Binotto, the current TP of the Cavallino.
“Every era is different; I don't want to give advice. It's easy to give advice. The only one I can give him is to hang on.
"Moreover, Ferrari is doing very well. It seems to me that people don't fully realise that. Ferrari is back to winning. I think everyone - well, almost everyone - would like to see Ferrari win championships, not just a few races. We can wish that 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 achieve it, and even more difficult to maintain it. It starts with excellence in the details. From what 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 the same mistake twice, if it happens it means there is something to change".
After years of struggles, the 2022 season finally seemed like the right year for a comeback: "Ferrari at one point had the best car in the championship.
But then, race after race, competitors progressed better and faster making fewer mistakes: “Then they missed certain opportunities,” said Todt.
“I'm thinking of wrong strategy, a Safety Car that came in at the wrong time, reliability problems. Different episodes that costed a lot. [As a team] never leave anything to chance. And if you manage to leave nothing taken for granted, then all the ingredients are there to be champions.
The conversation then moved to drivers. One of the pain points that many fans and journalists have raised is the lack of a clearly defined team hierarchy.
"In the Schumacher era there was no number one or number two driver: he and Irvine, he and Barrichello, he and Massa always started as equals, with the same treatment. Then after four or five races the results spoke for themselves”.
Many tifosi would love to see the Monegasque Charles Leclerc win his first World Title for “la rossa”. Todt claimed: