It’s Todt’s lotto
Ferrari’s CEO paid the price for a poor Melbourne race, writes MICHAEL TAYLOR in Italy
THE start of the Formula One season has not gone well for Ferrari kingpin Jean Todt. Just two days after the Italian team’s disastrous performance in the Australian Grand Prix, where world champion Kimi Raikkonen’s engine failed and Felipe Massa crashed into David Coulthard, Todt was gone as Ferrari CEO.
But the company insists the removal was not a knee-jerk reaction, even though the Frenchman’s decision to relinquish his position was announced at a full staff meeting in Maranello just two days after the F1 opener.
Todt joined Ferrari’s F1 organisation with Michael Schumacher 14 years ago and took over management of the racing and road-car sides of the company in 2006. He will be replaced by Amadio Felissa in a move marking a re-Italianisation of the marque.
Board chairman and former Ferrari supremo Luca di Montezemolo is expected to take a hands-on role in the company after ending his time leading Italy’s chamber of industry.
‘‘My commitment to the president (di Montezemolo) had been to manage the company until the end of his mandate as president of Confindustria and to indicate the new director of the sports management,’’ Todt says in a prepared statement.
‘‘Having accomplished these tasks, a new phase of my life has begun in which I will have more time to dedicate to myself and my other interests.
‘‘I will continue to make a contribution to Ferrari in my institutional positions and in those the president has chosen to entrust me.’’
Todt’s future roles at Ferrari include the running of its GT activities and sports management, though Ferrari has not pinpointed what either role entails.
Todt, who is married to film star Michelle Yeoh, is sticking to his prepared statement, but some Italian publications have hinted he has been made a scapegoat for the team’s start to the year.
In Melbourne, Ferrari looked as if the team was in disarray. Arch-rival McLaren, drowning in controversy for nearly a year, looked to have the control of a world champion.
Fiat Group CEO and Ferrari board member Sergio Marchionne has been running through Ferrari’s senior management with consulting firm Accenture to de-Fiat its hierarchy. But di Montezemolo has different ideas about its future.
Todt, it seems, might have simply been caught in the middle as Ferrari prepared its new, Maserati-based F149 to lift its sports-car sales to 10,000 a year.
Todt will remain on the board, along with di Montezemolo, Marchionne, Enzo Ferrari’s son Piero, incoming CEO Felissa, Alfredo Altavilla, Diego della Valle, Christopher Gent, Enrico Lippi, Paolo Monferino, Lindsay Owen-Jones, Marco Piccini and design scion, Sergio Pininfarina.
Gone: two days after Albert Park, Jean Todt stepped aside as Ferrari boss.