International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt has suggested motorsport’s global governing body “should have complete control” over the Formula One motor racing championship.
The governance and future direction of F1 has come under fire of late, most notably in the ongoing uncertainty surrounding its qualifying format. Asked if he would change the sport’s governance structure immediately if it again gave the FIA complete power, Todt (pictured) said, according to the Autosport website: “That would be logical. The FIA should have complete control, as the regulator and the legislator of Formula One. But historically it has not been like that. It is what I have inherited. It is like that.”
Todt stated that any major changes to F1’s governance would be prevented by the terms of the Concorde Agreement, the contract which divides up the commercial revenues of the sport, including television rights and prize money, along with specifying technical regulations.
The Frenchman said: “The governance is not good, but the governance has been there for decades. We wait until the renewal of the Concorde Agreement by 2020 and decide to change the governance. We are in 2016, and it cannot be until 2020. We cannot get out of this governance. Unless the teams, the commercial rights holder and the FIA decide to change, then we can do it tomorrow.”
Todt also joined Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone in criticising a call for reform in F1 by the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA). Formula One’s drivers last month joined forces to call for a change in the way the championship is governed, stating the current model is “obsolete and ill-structured”.
The comments from the GPDA came in an open letter signed by directors Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button – four-time and one-time world champions respectively – and president Alex Wurz, himself a former F1 driver.
Todt said: “With all due respect to the drivers, I'm not sure if you ask them how governance works, it would be doubtful they know. Maybe I'm wrong. I can sympathise with the drivers, with them saying 'We love our sport, help us to ensure we have a healthy and transparent sport'. But unless they have very specific advisors then they don't know what is the governance.”
Ecclestone reserved stronger words for the GPDA’s actions, suggesting the drivers were powerless and simply doing the bidding of their teams. Stating that he considered some of the drivers to be “windbags”, Ecclestone said, according to the Reuters news agency: “They can say what they like can't they? They can't do anything.
“They can give an opinion. Everyone has got an opinion. Really their discussions are with their team and the team has got a voice. They are only saying what the teams have told them to say.”