Mahindra Racing winning against big boys makes Jean Todt happy

Kirti Patil
Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Electric motoring is the way forward. We need to make our roads safer and only evolution of technology can help do that. Our aim is to reduce deaths in road accidents and we all are working towards it.
—Jean Todt (FIA President)

In Conversation with FIA boss Jean Todt, who hoped India will lay out a strong roadmap for motoring in the sub-continent in near future

MUMBAI: Evolution aptly describes the man—Jean Todt.

In his second visit to India as the guest of honour at the Indian motorsports’ annual award ceremony, FIA President Todt touched upon everything that one sought from him—from Formula One to Karting and road safety to the “baby of FIA”—Formula E.

Notwithstanding India’s short stint as a Formula One host, Todt was bullish on “this vast country” to redraw definite plans and have a clear roadmap for the future.

“We are happy to have one Indian team—Mahindra Racing, who are competing against the big boys and winning podiums at the biggest stage in electric motorsports,” said Todt.

Mahindra Racing is doing well and I would be happy to see a Formula E race in India. I believe Anand Mahindra is keen to have a race in India,” Todt said in response to whether India had the potential to host the race.

Pointing at some 10-odd smartphones recording his interview, Todt said technology keeps evolving....”you didn’t have these ten years ago. Further down you used telegrams and everything changed over the years. Just like that electric is the future of cars and bog boys have understood and are competing in Formula E.”

Starting his career as rally co-driver for Peugeot and winning four World Rally Championship titles and as many Paris-Dakar Rally titles to being Ferrari team Principal and guiding Michael Schumacher to five World Championships, Todt is a walking encyclopedia of modern motorsports.

Over the years, the Frenchman evolved as President of the world governing body of motorsports, Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. Since he took over, FIA added e-prix in its events calendar despite naysayers but the way championship has shaped up Todt felt it was perfect time for the sub-continent to host the race.

“Formula E is doing very well, promoting safety, promoting environment and incidentally, one Indian team, Mahindra Racing is doing well in a new championship, in fact the baby of the FIA,” said Todt about the road ahead for Formula E.

Mahindra Racing has so far won three podium finishes in three races in the Season 5 of FIA Formula E Championships and currently heads the team standings with 83 points.

“Basically, Formula E is a different category and not a competition to F1, just like the World Racing Championship, Touring Car Championships,” he explained. 

Formula E and Formula One have their distinct separate spaces and evolution in motoring was unstoppable.

“Formula One is a different category (from FE). We all know motoring is changing. Evolution of cars is part of technology. There are good evolutions and bad evolutions. Bad evolutions are traffic and congestion, more cars on roads in the cities and traffic problem. So if you can encourage new technology using racing, it will be beneficial.”

Todt spoke about his stint as Ferrari CEO and how the F1 team, with F1 icon Michael Schumacher in the unit, got closer as circumstances got tougher.

“I am blessed to be involved with motorsport. As a young guy, I did not think that one day I will be asked to run Ferrari. It is not easy to seek continuity. I was lucky to have the energy to stay 16 years.

“The reason I left Ferrari was because I felt the chapter was ending. We achieved as much as we could.”

“The toughest part of my career was when things got difficult. Such situations builds very strong relationships with people.

“Michael has been clearly very important in achieving the success, along with other team members. When we have had tough times, if you stick together, you will come out stronger. We stuck together and achieved something that had not been done.”

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