- The Inside Line
Todt's second termKate Walker December 7, 2013
Jean Todt is not a fan of the way in which the FIA's marquee sports grab all of the attention in the wider world of motorsport.
Despite the fact that 2014 marks a big year for the FIA's flagship series, with F1's engine spec shift, rule changes in the WRC, and the birth of Formula E to push the green agenda, the Frenchman was dismissive when asked which would present him with the biggest challenge in the first year of his second term.
"I hate the question 'the biggest'," he said. "Everything is important. I will say that the biggest challenge is to develop grassroots motorsport - nobody is interested in that, because everybody is interested in Formula One. 'He overtook here…' For me that is not the priority. Of course it has to be considered, but we have governance for that. On Monday the Strategy Group will meet, and after that the Formula One Commission, so we will address Formula One. For me the most important thing in Formula One is to reduce costs. It's more important than anything else, because without that Formula One will die.
"But that's valid for all the categories [in motorsport]. We have to respect developing countries, to promote motorsport, to engage them in karting, in road racing, in drifting. We have a big pyramid [in motorsport] and the important thing is to cover each single aspect of the pyramid. Everything has to be secure. It's a wide project, but we have great people and we will move forwards."
One of the cornerstones of Todt's re-election campaign was the development of grassroots motorsport, and the Frenchman has promised to create a Motorsport Development Fund which will replace the Fund started with McLaren's legendary 2007 fine, enabling projects started under that umbrella to continue unimpeded.
Work to simplify the motorsports career ladder is continuing apace, with efforts ongoing in single-seater racing, and a project to do the same in rallying now underway.
Next on the agenda is the creation of a Motor Sport Development Department that will be tasked with growing grassroots motorsports across the FIA regions, with ASNs working together - and with the FIA - to find solutions that will promote the sport in their own countries and regions. A number of member clubs with low visibility in the world of single-seater racing are already well established on the rally and rallycross stage, for example, and efforts to improve access to grassroots motorsport will be designed to work with existing initiatives.
One country that could prove to be a model for regional development is France, home of the FIA. Despite a recent drought of F1 drivers, 2013 saw four Frenchman on the grid, and Sebastien Loeb's WRC-dominating torch appears to have been neatly passed to countryman Sebastien Ogier. The country's ongoing success in motorsport is down to a multi-pronged approach at every level, Todt said.
"There is a very good national sporting federation [in France] that has good vision in developing young talents," Todt said. "There is a big interest in motorsport. Incidentally, a lot of effort has been put into rallying, and in France we have a few great champions. All the categories are covered - you have four French drivers in Formula One; in touring cars Yvan Muller is very competitive, and in karting you have [French] drivers in all categories. France is well represented."