Jean Todt (born 25 February 1946) is a French motor sport executive. After a successful career as a rally co-driver he made his reputation in motor sport management, first with Peugeot Talbot Sport, then with Scuderia Ferrari, before being appointed Chief Executive Officer of Ferrari from 2006 to 2008. Since 23 October 2009 he has been President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).
Under his direction, Peugeot won 4 World Rally Championship titles (drivers and manufacturers), triumphed 4 times in the Paris-Dakar Rally, and were twice victorious in the Le Mans 24 Hours. During his time at Ferrari, the Scuderia won a total 14 Formula One World Championship titles (drivers and manufacturers).
He has one son, Nicolas, aged 37, and shares his life with Michelle Yeoh.
- 1 Life and career
- 2 Trophies and titles
- 3 Management positions
- 4 Personal life
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes and References
- 7 External links
Life and career
Todt was always hugely enthusiastic about cars and motor racing. Even while he was graduating from the École des Dirigeants et Créateurs d'Entreprise (EDC) business school in Paris, he would devote his spare time to tuning cars with a group of friends at the Madeleine garage in Asnières near Paris.
After High School, Todt studied at the "Ecole des Cadres" School of Economics and Business in Paris. In 1966, he started his career as a rally co-driver and participated to the World Championship rallies with most of the car manufacturers together with international rally drivers until 1981 when, with Guy Frequelin, they won the Constructors' World Rally Championship with Talbot Lotus. He also represented the drivers in the FISA (Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile) Rally Commission from 1975 to 1981.
Rally co-driver from 1966 to 1981
The young Todt was fascinated by motor sport and had special respect for drivers like Jim Clark and Dan Gurney. Borrowing the paternal Mini Cooper to drive in rallies, he soon decided his greatest strength was as a co-driver. He first co-drove with Guy Chasseuil in 1966 and his talent for calculation, strategy and organisation quickly made him a sought-after navigator. By 1969, Todt was rubbing shoulders with world-class rally stars such as Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Rauno Aaltonen, Ove Andersson, Hannu Mikkola and Guy Fréquelin. He went on to enjoy success as a co-driver with Jean-François Piot, Ove Andersson, Achim Warmbold, Jean Guichet, Hannu Mikkola, Jean-Claude Lefèbvre, Timo Mäkinen, Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Guy Fréquelin.
In 1981, as Guy Fréquelin’s co-driver with Talbot, a Peugeot subsidiary, he won the manufacturers’ World Rally Championship and was runner-up in the drivers’ World Rally Championship. At the same time, he was increasingly moving out from his role as a co-driver by participating in the management of the team and in relations with the FIA, where he showed proof of his innate talent for administration and organisation.
Director of Peugeot Talbot Sport from 1982 to 1993
In 1981, he withdrew from competing as a co-driver and was appointed Director of Racing for Peugeot by the then CEO Jean Boillot at a time when PSA Peugeot Citroën was experiencing major financial difficulties as well as image problems. He applied his abilities as a meticulous organiser and strategist to the creation of Peugeot Talbot Sport, which he set up to spearhead the French firm’s return to competition. He was the mastermind behind the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16, Peugeot 405 Turbo 16 and Peugeot 905.
In 1984, Peugeot returned to the World Rally Championship and, in 1985 and 1986, the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Group B driven first by Timo Salonen then by Juha Kankkunen obtained stunning results (back-to-back manufacturers’ World Championship titles). In 1986 Henri Toivonen died driving a Lancia Delta during the Tour de Corse rally and the FIA decided to drop the Group B class as being too fast and too dangerous.
In 1987, Todt adapted the 205 Turbo 16 to off-road rallies with the aim of competing in the showcase Paris-Dakar Rally. He became the centre of attention in the 1989 Paris-Dakar when he tossed a coin to decide between his two drivers Ari Vatanen and Jacky Ickx to ensure that their rivalry would not lead to one of them quitting and cost the team victory. From 1987 to 1990, he enjoyed dazzling success with four successive victories in the Paris-Dakar with Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen. Peugeot subsequently decided to withdraw from off-road rallying and left the field open to Citroën who won the event with the Citroën ZX Rallye-Raid, based on the Peugeot 405 chassis.
In 1992, he won the Le Mans 24 Hours with the Peugeot 905 driven by Derek Warwick, Yannick Dalmas and Mark Blundell and, in 1993, again at Le Mans, three 905 cars driven by Geoff Brabham, Christophe Bouchut and Eric Hélary swept the field with a 1-2-3 victory.
General Manager of Scuderia Ferrari 1994 to 2007
In 1993, at the age of 47, Todt’s 12 outstanding years with Peugeot Talbot Sport came to an end. He was recruited by Luca di Montezemolo, the new CEO of Scuderia Ferrari. On 1 July of that year at the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, he started in as the General Manager of the Racing Division at the head of a team of four hundred technicians.
He was the first non-Italian ever to head the Scuderia. His challenge was to lead Ferrari back to success at a time when the renowned Italian Formula One stable was experiencing some of the blackest days in its history. The mythical Italian team was undermined by internal quarrels and a production system that was partly delocalised. The Scuderia was no more than the shadow of its former glory, with no driver’s championship won since 1979. Todt set about completely restructuring the management of the Racing Division.
In 1994, barely a year after Todt took up the challenge, Gerhard Berger won the German Grand Prix (Ferrari’s first win in 4 years). Even so, Michael Schumacher’s Benetton-Ford (world champion in 1994 and 1995) and the Williams-Renault cars of Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell and David Coulthard largely dominated the competition.
At the end of the 1995 season, Todt asked the German double world champion Michael Schumacher to join the Scuderia. Generally considered to be the best driver of his generation, Schumacher agreed to put his exceptional skills at the service of Todt’s mission. The two were to establish not only a deep friendship, but almost a family relationship.
In 1996, Schumacher won two consecutive victories in first the Belgian and then the Italian Grand Prix. Todt then hired two former Benetton managers, the designer and aerodynamics specialist Rory Byrne and technical director Ross Brawn, to replace John Barnard.
In 1997 and 1998 Ferrari missed out on the world drivers’ title by just a few points during the final races of the season, in 1997 behind Jacques Villeneuve’s Williams-Renault and in 1998 and 1999 behind Mika Häkkinen’s McLaren-Mercedes.
Todt achieved his goal of reviving Ferrari as a motor racing legend by winning overwhelming victories with Schumacher in five consecutive world championships (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004), a first in the history of Formula One.
CEO and Special Advisor at Ferrari from 2006 to 2009
On 1 June 2004, Todt was appointed CEO of Ferrari in addition to his title of General Manager of the Racing Division. On October 2006, 3 days after the end of the Formula One season and following the retirement of Michael Schumacher, he took up a new post as a Special Advisor for the Scuderia Ferrari.
In 2007, he prepared the ground for Stefano Domenicali to succeed him as head of the Scuderia as from 1 January 2008. Then, on 18 March 2008, he resigned his position as Special Advisor to the Ferrari board, to be replaced by Amedeo Felisa. He nonetheless remained a member of the board of Ferrari for a further year before resigning all his functions within the Italian firm in March 2009, after winning 14 world titles and claiming 106 victories.
President of FIA
In April 2009, he became President of “eSafety Aware!” for the promotion of the smart vehicles and new safety technologies, which enabled him to improve his knowledge of the internal workings of the FIA while organising his campaign with the help of his partner, Michelle Yeoh, FIA’s Ambassador for Road Safety.
On 16 July 2009, he officially announced his intention of running for the Presidency of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile in the election that was due to take place in October. The day before, he had received the support of outgoing President Max Mosley, who had decided not to stand for re-election. He was the second contender to declare, the 1981 world rally champion Ari Vatanen having announced his candidature just a few days earlier.
On 23 October 2009, he was elected President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (by 135 votes against 49 for Finnish driver and MEP Ari Vatanen). He was elected for a new four-year term on 6 December 2013.
Todt is a member of the French Académie des sports and Académie des technologies. He sits on the board of directors of the Groupe Lucien Barrière (a major French luxury hotel and casino group, owned by his close friend Dominique Desseigne), Edmond de Rotschild SA and Gaumont Film Company. He is also an administrator of the Société des Amis du Musée d'Art moderne de la ville de Paris.
Along with Michael Schumacher, Todt is a founding member of the ICM (Institut du cerveau et de la moelle épinière, a brain and spinal cord research group). The driver and his team principal have made regular contributions to the Foundation for many years and have not hesitated to use their image to further its aims. To benefit the organization, Schumacher and Todt appeared in the movie Asterix at the Olympic Games, released in January 2008. The driver played the role of Schumix, a chariot driver, and Todt was his race director. Todt is also Vice President of the ICM Foundation.
Todt also devotes himself to humanitarian and other causes: in 2003, he was made a roving Ambassador for the Republic of San Marino and from 2009 to 2013 he was Tourism Ambassador for Malaysia. In December 2014 he was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Suu Foundation, a humanitarian organization dedicated to advancing the health and education of the people of Myanmar (Burma) founded by Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Trophies and titles
- Lyon-Charbonnières Rally (co-driver): 1968 with Jean-Claude Andruet in Alpine A110 1440
- Grasse-Alpin Rally (co-driver): 1970 with Jean-François Piot in Ford Escort RS 1800
- Tour de France Automobile Rally (co-driver): 1970 with Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Patrick Depailler in Matra MS650
- Rally de Portugal (co-driver): 1971 with Jean-Pierre Nicolas in Alpine A110 in European Championship
- Tour de La Réunion (co-driver): 1972 with Jean-Pierre Nicolas in Renault 12 Gordini
- World Rally Championship (co-driver): Vice-champion of the world 1981 with Guy Fréquelin in Talbot Sunbeam Lotus, allowing the team to win the 1981 manufacturers’ World Championship and the Prix Roland Peugeot of the French Académie des Sports for the outstanding French motors port achievement of the year.
Fifty-four WRC competitions as co-driver with a total of four victories between 1973 and 1981:
- Winner, Rally of Poland in 1973 (with Achim Warmbold)
- Winner, Österreichische Alpenfahrt in 1973 (with Achim Warmbold)
- Winner, Rallye du Maroc in 1975 (with Hannu Mikkola)
- Winner, Rally Argentina in 1981 (with Guy Fréquelin)
- 2nd in the Rallye du Maroc in 1970 (with Bernard Consten, DS 21)
- 2nd in the Monte-Carlo Rally in 1973 (with Ove Andersson)
- 2nd in the Monte-Carlo Rally in 1975 (with Hannu Mikkola)
- 2nd in the Monte-Carlo Rally in 1981 (with Guy Fréquelin)
- 2nd in the Tour de Corse in 1981 (with Guy Fréquelin)
- 2nd in the Rally of Brazil in 1981 (with Guy Fréquelin)
- 3rd in the Tour de Corse in 1969 (with J-F Piot, on this occasion, not WRC)
- 3rd in the Österreichische Alpenfahrt in 1970 (with J-F Piot, in the ICM International Championship of Manufacturers)
- 3rd in the Monte-Carlo Rally in 1972 (with Rauno Aaltonen)
As team principal/director
- World Rally Championship (Peugeot Talbot Sport/Peugeot 205 Turbo 16) (2): 1985, 1986 (drivers’ and manufacturers’ title)
- German Rally Championship (2): 1985 (Kalle Grundel), 1986 (Michèle Mouton) (Peugeot 205 Turbo 16)
- Paris-Dakar Rally (Peugeot Talbot Sport) (4): 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990
- Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC - the Race to the Clouds) (Peugeot Talbot Sport) (1) : 1988 (Peugeot 405 Turbo 16 driven by A.Vatanen)
- French Rallycross Championship (Peugeot Talbot Sport/Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Evolution 2) (3): 1988 (Guy Fréquelin), 1989 (Philippe Wambergue) and 1990 (Jean-Manuel Beuzelin)
- Andros Elite Trophy (Peugeot 205 Turbo 16) (1): 1990 (Éric Arpin)
- World Sportscar Championship (Peugeot Talbot Sport/Peugeot 905) (1) : 1992 (drivers’ and manufacturers’ title)
- Le Mans 24 Hours (Peugeot Talbot Sport/Peugeot 905) (2): 1992, 1993
- F1 Manufacturers’ World Championship with the Scuderia Ferrari (8): 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 (106 Grand Prix wins)
- F1 World Drivers Championship with the Scuderia Ferrari (6): 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 (Michael Schumacher), 2007 (Kimi Räikkönen)
Titles and distinctions
- 22 October 2002 - Named Commendatore Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana, on the initiative of the President of Italy.
- 2004 - Title of Ingegnere Meccanico awarded by the University of Florence.
- 2003 - Ambassador of the Republic of San Marino.
- 1 December 2006 - Dato Seri by the King of Malaysia.
- 2009 - Tourism Ambassador for Malaysia.
- 14 July 2011 - Named the Grand' Croix de la Légion d'honneur.
- 19 December 2011 - Named Cavaliere Grand'Ufficiale dell'Ordine Equestre di Sant'Agata by San Marino authorities.
- 2011 - Member of the Ukrainian order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise.
- 2013 - Member of Sotheby’s international advisory board.
- 2013 - Commander of the National Order of Merit of Senegal
- 2014 - First class order medal from the King of Bahrain.
- March 2014 - Member of the Board of Directors of the Suu Foundation.
- April 2014 - Received the Bahrain First Class Order Medal.
- December 2014 - Chairman of the Suu Foundation
Member of the Board of Trustees of FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society.
- Peugeot Talbot Sport: 1982–1993
- Scuderia Ferrari: 1993–2008
- FIA: Since 23 October 2009
When Todt was appointed FIA president, an English paper already predicted he could “play the glamour card with the support of his partner and ex-Bond girl Michelle Yeoh“, and she often accompanies him when he is invited in his capacity as FIA president. Yeoh also acts as ambassador of the FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society. This foundation, existing within the FIA since 2001, launched in 2011 the "Decade of Action for Road Safety" and produced the documentary Turning Point. Due to her mutual commitment to road traffic safety the couple frequently travels together in order to promote this FIA campaign together.
Notes and References
- "Motor racing-Todt elected FIA president". Reuters. 2009-10-23. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
- "Jean Todt". Retrieved 17 June 2012.
- "Jean Todt and Michelle Yeoh". Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- "F.I.A. Presidential candidate Jean Todt and Michelle Yeoh walk on the grid before the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 27, 2009 in Singapore". Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- "Todt not only brings decades of solid professional experience to the FIA, he can also play the glamour card with the support of his partner and ex-Bond girl Michelle Yeoh". The Daily Telegraph. 23 October 2009. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- "FIA President Jean Todt and Michelle Yeoh visit Sri Lanka". Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- "With his partner Michelle Yeoh, Todt travels the world promoting the Make Roads Safe Campaign and the Call for a Decade of Action for Road Safety.". Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- "The launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, entitled Mr. Jean Todt’s coming to Moldova. The FIA’s president was accompanied by actress Mrs. Michelle Yeoh". Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- "FIA President Jean Todt and his wife, actress Michelle Yeoh poses with Formula One drivers Heidfeld, Alonso, Schumacher , Massa and Rosberg during a photocall to promote their association for the Road safety action". Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- "FIA president Jean Todt poses with his wife, Michelle Yeoh, on the red carpet for the movie "The Lady" directed by French director Luc Besson at Rome Film Festival October 27, 2011.". Retrieved 2012-01-06.
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