Posted On Saturday, February 09, 2013 at 09:02:44 AM
Mumbai: Jean Todt may cut a diminutive figure physically, but his presence in the world of motorsport is that of a Goliath. As President of the FIA, the governing body overseeing motorsport operations globally, Frenchman Todt, needless to say, is perhaps the most important man in the high-octane world of motor racing.
So when he says India is punching above its weight in motorsport, his word has to be taken as final. Todt believes motorsport here has built upon the success of the Indian Grand Prix, but he does not want the development to stop right there. “It’s time to move further.
• A DAVID AND A GOLIATH: Jean Todt is the supreme authority at the FIA, the governing body controlling motorsport activities globally
Motorsport is fantastic here because you have a Formula One circuit, a race and a team and you have some very talented drivers, so I believe it [the revolution] has started and I hope sooner or later there will be more FIA credited events here like a round of the FIA World Rally Championship or a leg of the FIA Touring Car series. Sooner or later all that will be possible,” Todt said.
The 66-year-old rates the Buddh International Circuit, which hosts the Indian GP, as one of the best circuits in the world. “I was fascinated with the whole circuit when I went there for the inaugural race of the Indian Grand Prix in 2011.
It was a very good circuit, very modern and a dream for the future,” said Todt, under whom Ferrari won a total of 13 Formula One World Championship titles (both drivers and manufacturers).
“I’m very proud with the development of motorsport in India and I want to see a strong [motorsport] community here.
We have the FIA working well with the Indian automobile clubs and we are working together and building together so it is absolutely fantastic for the sport in the country.” With the 2013 competition a little over a month away, it is obvious that Todt is occupied by the thoughts of how the season will pan out.
Vettel the champ
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel has won the last three drivers titles and without any tweaks to car specs this year, the German has been tipped to win a fourth-straight title that will edge him closer to the seven championship wins of his countryman, the legendary Michael Schumacher, who coincidentally won his titles when Todt served as Ferrari’s head.
Todt was tactful when asked the obvious question: Will Vettel equal or surpass Schumi’s record seven titles? “Well these are two different people. Michael is a great guy and Vettel too, but they raced in different times and in F1 a lot depends on your car and the team.
You have to have the right people and the right organisation at the right time,” he said. Despite following a similar course to last year as far as the rule books go, Todt is expecting season-long excitement. He said: “With private testing underway the season has started.
The cars are quite similar to the ones that raced last year, so the season will be pretty similar. The rule changes will come into play next year to make the car more environmentally friendly.
“There will be more energy-efficient engines better adapted to modern times, but F1 is fascinating and there will be a lot of action and I’m very excited to see what will happen.”