He has dedicated his life to motorsport: Jean Todt started out as a rally co-driver and notched up major successes in the world’s most important racing series as a team principal. Since 2009, he is President of the FIA. In the latest ‘Inside E’ podcast, the Frenchman talks about racing in pandemic times, the Formula E success story and the social responsibility of the FIA and motorsport.
« For me it’s important that motorsport is not only seen as sport and entertainment but also as a development laboratory to make motoring safer. » According to Jean Todt, innovative solutions have not only improved safety in racing cars in recent years – but many of these developments have also contributed significantly to traffic safety in road cars. « All of the progress we’ve made in this area has clearly saved lives in motor racing and contributed to saving lives on the road. »
Jean Todt feels that one of the main challenges of our time – alongside Covid-19, climate change, health and diversity of society – is to achieve equality for women. As far back as 2009, the FIA established the « Women in Motorsport Commission » to support women on their chosen paths. The face behind this initiative was the successful rally driver Michèle Mouton. « We want more women in motorsport. Not only in the cockpit but also in management positions within the FIA, in administration and as marshals at the tracks, » says Jean Todt. The all-women team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year was a milestone in this endeavour. « There’s still a long way to go for women, in motorsport, too. But they’re motivated and want success – and we’re there to support them. »
Right now, however, it is motorsport in pandemic times that is taking all of his attention. « We are respectful of the situation, » says the FIA President. « We’ve been very creative, also with the organisation of the calendars, and we were able to restart important championships. » This is a tribute to the immense commitment and excellent cooperation of all involved. « When working together as a team, we’ve demonstrated that it is possible to face difficult situations with success. »
He regards Formula E as a success story. The concept, which was born on the back of a napkin in a Paris restaurant in 2011 with Jean Todt at the table, came to fruition faster than expected. This world championship not only brings attractive motorsport to major cities but also dispels the still widespread reservations about electric cars. « Formula E offers innovative cars and exciting races. In this way, it raises public awareness about the important role of electric cars in future mobility. »
Jean Todt’s passion for motorsport started in his childhood. He is also optimistic about its future. « Progress in recent years, especially in terms of safety and sustainability, has been absolutely sensational, » he says. « Motorsport is a dream for many and a freedom we need to preserve. »
The Porsche Formula E podcast is published in English and can be downloaded from the Porsche Newsroom. ‘Inside E’ is also available on other platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.