Jean Todt targets greener F1

ESPNF1 Staff
December 28, 2009 « Peter Windsor insists US F1 is on target for 2010 | »
Jean Todt wants to make F1more environmentally friendly and cheaper © Sutton Images
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FIA president Jean Todt intends to make Formula One more environmentally friendly and has expressed his disappointment in losing Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) from the cars next season.

KERS was introduced to spice up the racing and to create a competitive environment in which the technology could be developed for road car use. However, making it light enough to give an F1 car an advantage proved too costly for many teams and it has been dropped for next season as a result.

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, Todt revealed he intends to explore new ways of making the sport greener and has employed an ex-Ferrari colleague to research cheaper alternatives to KERS.

"I am convinced that we absolutely must reflect the environment with new technologies," Todt said. "We must adapt to our time and review fundamentally motorsport - even create new disciplines.

"After giving up on KERS, we will accomplish nothing innovative next year. I'm sorry about that. I have therefore decided to create a working group. Gilles Simon, former boss at Ferrari engines, will join the FIA in this context."

Despite his drive for new technologies, Todt is keen to keep spending to a minimum. He pointed out that the exodus of manufacturers over the past year was proof that the resource restriction agreement, put in place by his predecessor Max Mosley, had not gone far enough.

"The F1 teams are sometimes blind and do not realise what is happening in the world," Todt said. "But the racing has been struck as always by the [economic] crisis. F1 is too expensive, and my predecessor Max Mosley made great efforts to reduce costs, but it was not enough, especially as some teams were resistant.

"I am sad that Honda, BMW and Toyota are gone, but when you spend a lot and the results are not there, it's inevitable. On the other hand, it's great that new teams will be coming in. But the cost-saving measures already taken are not sufficient. I am against limiting regulatory budgets, but if we want to perpetuate F1, it takes a real awareness and fundamental decisions."

In a separate interview, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo gave his support to Todt as the FIA president but said there was a wide range of topics the sport must address.

"First we have to decide where we want to position the product," he said. "I think it needs to encompass extreme technology, performance and research. Secondly, we need to save costs without losing the appealing elements. Carbon brakes, for instance, are impossible to use with road cars and we can accept a standard gearbox without losing F1 characteristics. Thirdly, to replace manufacturer teams with teams that I don't know if they will be ready or in what condition, I don't think is best.

"We also need to look at the show. I'm not making strong points here, but is it right to run in Europe at 2 or 3pm on a summer afternoon? I don't know. In soccer they play at 4 or 5pm, or at 8 or 9pm. Is it right that we have two hour races? Maybe they are too long. These are things we need to discuss.

"Should we have such expensive tickets? Today a young boy with his girlfriend can fly around the world for less than attending the Italian Grand Prix in the best seats. Is that right? I don't want to be arrogant or presumptuous, but I want to have professional instruments to look into it."

He also said some aspects of the cost cutting agreements had gone too far, including the current testing restrictions.

"Years ago we could test every day, now not at all," he added. "You need a balance. It's like in Italy, one day the doctor is smoking while he's doing an operation but now, if you smoke in the street, you're killed. We need something in the middle."