Jean Todt unplugged on Formula 1 issues

Jean Todt (FRA) FIA President in a FIA Press Conference.  Formula One World Championship,

Jean Todt opens up on key issues in Formula 1

May 4 (GMM) Jean Todt has been somewhat verbose about some topical Formula 1 issues in the build up to the Soanish Grand prix this weekend. The FIA President is adamant that KERS has a role in F1’s future, he is lobbying for more cost cuts, he is of the belief that Michael Schumacher needs to be given more time and thinks that Lewis Hamilton has an image problem.

FIA serious about KERS

BMW Sauber KERS equipment. Formula One
BMW Sauber KERS equipment during testing in 2008

Jean Todt on Tuesday said the FIA is pushing for the energy-recovery technology KERS to be redeployed in formula one next year. While the regenerative braking energy systems will surely be part of the sport’s new engine formula for 2013, it has been reported that some teams want KERS back on the grid as soon as next season.

Currently allowed by the technical regulations, the F1 teams group FOTA agreed to voluntarily ban KERS this year after only some teams ran the systems in 2009 with mixed results.

Ferrari, Renault and Williams are at the forefront of the new push to see KERS back in F1 in 2011, and FIA president Todt admitted on Tuesday that the governing body is also “very serious” about the return of the technology as soon as possible.

According to the Associated Press, the Frenchman said on a visit to Spain that KERS is important so that F1 can be “an ambassador to new technologies”.

It is also reported on Tuesday that Flybrid Systems, a British company set up in 2007 by former Renault F1 engineers, has made an offer to FOTA to become an independent supplier of KERS systems in 2011.

Ferrari and Renault have also offered to make available their KERS units to customer teams for 1 million euros, while Williams intends to use its own flywheel-based system.

The matter will be further discussed by FOTA in Barcelona this week.

Cutting costs needed to help new teams survive

Jean Todt visits Hispania Racing pit garage in Bahrain

Jean Todt visits Hispania Racing pit garage in Bahrain

Meanwhile costs in formula one must be further cut so that the sport’s newly arrived teams do not fall at the first hurdle according to Todt.

While announcing that he is pushing for KERS to return to the grid in 2011, the FIA president vowed to support new teams Virgin, Lotus and HRT, on the same day he intended to visit the Spanish headquarters of hopeful entrant Epsilon Euskadi.

“We must ensure the survival of those teams who have just entered the championship,” the Frenchman is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport. “That doesn’t mean I’m thinking about a spending cap for each team. There are many ways to reduce costs,” added Todt.

Lotus T127 bodywork in the pits.

Lotus T127 bodywork in the Sakhir pits

A report in El Universo newspaper said Todt is hoping the reintegration of KERS will make F1 “the ambassador of new technology” and entice sponsors to return.

He admitted that Ferrari is never likely to support budget caps but said “there is obviously great disparity” in the funding of the current teams.

He also said drastic changes to the aerodynamic regulations must accompany the sport’s new engine formula for 2013.

Spain’s Diario Sport quotes Todt as saying: “These (current) rules give excessive prominence to aerodynamics and make overtaking too hard. Unless there are difficult weather conditions, then the car in front stays there throughout the race and this is mostly due to the aerodynamics,” said Todt.

Todt says Schumi needs time to get in the groove

(L to R): Jean Todt (FRA) FIA President with Michelle Yeoh (MAL) and Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP. Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix,

Jean Todt with his wife Michelle Yeoh and Michael Schumacher during the F1 drivers photocall in Bahrain

On Michael Schumacher, Todt is of the opinion that the seven times F1 World Champion needs to be given more time to impress on his F1 comeback.

After the opening four races of 2010, many vocal members of the world of grand prix racing expressed disappointment and criticism of the seven time world champion’s performance.

But FIA president Todt, who is a close friend of the 41-year-old German’s after his long former career as Ferrari team boss, expressed a different attitude during a visit to Spain on Tuesday.

“Just with his presence, there are a lot of people going to the circuits this year; the interest in the championship has grown considerably,” he is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari and Jean Todt (FRA) Ferrari General Manager  celebrate winning his seventh World Drivers Championship with his Ferrari team mates. Formula One World Championship,

Michael Schumacher celebrates his seventh world title with Jean Todt and the Ferrari team in 2004

“As for his results, I’d say it’s too early to judge. Don’t forget that he has returned from a long period of inactivity,” added Todt.

In the pages of Spain’s El Pais, the Frenchman is quoted as also saying: “Even a great champion needs a good car to be competitive”, while in Diario AS Todt reportedly added that Schumacher’s return demonstrates “that he still has the same passion for racing”.

“It’s no secret that Michael and I are friends so I would rather see him at the wheel of a F1 car than a motorbike which is much more dangerous.

“When we are closer to the end of the season we will know more about whether Schumacher’s performance was the same as before. We have to wait,” said Todt.

Todt says Hamilton has an image problem

World Championship 2010, GP of Malaysia, 02 Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton unfavourable image?

According to the FIA boss it is Lewis Hamilton’s existing “image” that has depicted him as an overly aggressive driver, according to FIA president Jean Todt.

Addressing Spanish media on Tuesday, the Frenchman was asked about the McLaren driver’s behaviour in the Shanghai pitlane two weeks ago, following several other incidents so far in 2010.

Hamilton is still very unpopular within Spain, and Todt noted that the 25-year-old “has an image that is perhaps more unfavourable than others due to his coexistence with Alonso” at McLaren in 2007.

The Frenchman then refused to answer when asked if Hamilton is treated preferentially by the FIA.

“In the (China) pitlane, it was not just Hamilton but Vettel was also there,” said Todt. “I don’t know if you can say he is any different in terms of behaviour than the others, and it is the stewards who must decide.”