RUMBLING V8 saw some time ago a one-to-one with Christian Horner which was most amusing. Read below the one-to-one with Ferrari’s Team Principal, the ever pragmatic and ever polished, Jean Todt.
A lifelong motor racing enthusiast, Jean Todt has seen the sport from all angles – as driver, co-driver and team manager. He has been part of Ferrari and Formula One for well over a decade and has led the Italian team through the most successful period in their long and glorious history.
Despite this, the Frenchman remains one of the pit lane’s most enigmatic figures, so when he speaks, you can be sure it will be worth listening…
Q: The best part of being a team principal?
Jean Todt: Being part of the evolution of a sport that is a real passion for me. A further satisfaction comes from being able to protect and filter the problems that go with a team like Ferrari, to allow the staff to work in as calm an environment as possible.
Q: The most annoying?
JT: Having to manage all the false speculation that is part and parcel of the world of F1.
Q: Running an F1 team is like …
JT: Being at the helm of a sailing ship: it won’t move forward if everyone is not pushing in the same direction.
Q: What would you be if you weren’t a team principal?
JT: Honestly, I do not know what the future might have held for me.
Q: The first thing I do after a race is…
JT: Obviously, it depends on the result. Whatever the situation, I share with the team either the joy of victory or the sadness at a poor performance.
Q: Winning a race means…
JT: Breathing better!
Q: Favourite place to relax?
JT: The place is unimportant, it’s the company that matters.
Q: Funniest thing you’ve read about yourself in the press?
JT: It would be hard to choose just one…
Q: The most difficult decision you had to make as a team principal?
JT: There have been a lot of difficult decisions. For example, dealing with the situation after the incident between Michael (Schumacher) and Villeneuve in Jerez in 1997…
Q: Best time during a race weekend?
JT: The moment spent beneath the podium after a win.
Q: Formula One and politics is like…
JT: It is part of the game and, then again, it depends on who is involved, which is in fact the same situation in real political life.
Q: Your best moment as a team principal?
JT: Suzuka 2000, when Michael (Schumacher) won that drivers’ title that Ferrari had been chasing for 21 years. With Michael on the podium, we told ourselves our lives would never be the same again – and so it proved.
Q: Something you have always wanted to do but never had the time?
JT: There are so many things, including going back to the desert: I hope to do it one day with the people I love.
Q: How was your first race as a team principal?
JT: Stressful and surprising because the situation I found at Ferrari back then was not what I had expected.
Q: Who would you like to be for one day? And why?
JT: I’ve never considered it because there is no real basis to the question.
Q: Money changes everything?
JT: No, but it helps by granting one freedom and autonomy. However, there are things, such as good health and happiness, that money just cannot buy.