• Bahrain Grand Prix

Absentee Todt again under fire

ESPN Staff
April 17, 2013 « Porsche denies Webber rumours | Kovalainen rejoins Caterham as reserve »
Jean Todt has allowed Bernie Ecclestone to be the face of the sport as far as the Bahrain issue is concerned © Getty Images

FIA president Jean Todt is again under the spotlight for failing to travel to Bahrain despite the ongoing demonstrations against the race. He has been roundly condemned in the media for what many say is exposing Formula One personnel to potential danger while preferring to stay away himself.

In 2012 Todt was criticised for exactly the same reason and he was forced to make a late appearance after Force India team members were caught up in trouble travelling between the circuit and their hotel.

The invisible man

A rare outing ... © Getty Images
  • Ever since the uprising in Bahrain started in 2011 Jean Todt has failed to provide any public sign of leadership, remaining so silent that it became almost embarrassing. As the head of world motorsport whose role, to the wider public, is a mystery anyway, this is the kind of situation calling for a calm head and public reassurance. Instead he has gone to ground and given every impression that it's every man and woman for themselves.

    What is an even sadder reflection of the FIA and motorsport is that despite this he is likely to be re-elected in the autumn at a canter. He is likely then to briefly break cover and then everyone can look forward another four years of Jean under the cloak of invisibility.
    Martin Williamson

He has also been accused of remaining silent for much of the debate on Bahrain at the very time the sport needed leadership - and he has again failed to say anything this year - seemingly happy to allow Bernie Ecclestone to be the public face of F1.

The perceived reason for Todt's absence this year is that he is busy electioneering as his four-year tenure comes to an end in the autumn.

The media pulled no punches. In the Times Kevin Eason wrote: "When it may have been politically expedient to be visible as F1 and its millions of fans need reassurance before what will be the most politically febrile grand prix of the year, Todt will be invisible again."

In the Guardian Paul Weaver said that "as Formula One cries out for leadership there is complete silence from the FIA's Paris headquarters" adding the FIA "is impotent in its most urgent hour".

Last week former world champion Damon Hill called on Todt to speak."His approach has been to say nothing, because otherwise you're being critical, and I think that is a mistake. Because he's being used, or the sport is being perceived as being used, by its engagement in the economy and the reputation of the country."

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