Max is gone as president of the FIA, the problem is that he has left his legacy in the form of the Todt. Since taking the presidency what has the Todt done for F1? Made some mutterings about bringing back the French GP. He seemed very quiet about Toyota leaving the sport. Possibly he was quietly celebrating as FOTA has been the bane of the FIA this past year. With Toyota leaving it was the last he would be seeing of John Howett Vice Chairman of FOTA. John was seen as the person most likely to succeed Luca di Montezemolo who has always intended to step down as Chairman of FOTA at the end of the year due to other commitments.
Another FOTA strongman was Flavio but the disgraced Renault F1 team boss has been banned from any association with FIA. BMW Sauber is another team who will be departing from FOTA following the company’s withdrawal from F1. There is a chance that they will be back in 2010 but their participation has still not been confirmed.
My drift here is although FOTA managed to get the FIA to agree to various terms in stand-offs during the year and in so doing appeared to have won some battles, I think the FIA might still win the war unless a really tough heavyweight is elected as the the FOTA chairman.
In Formula 1 when I think heavy I think of Norbert Haug the President in charge of all Mercedes-Benz motorsport. He will be transferred to a garage within the Mercedes GP (nee Brawn) pits. I think Norbert could do a good job but he has lot of other duties at the new team so I would select him as the new vice-president.
I have outlined the need for FOTA to have a tough chairperson. Luca was certainly Machiavellian enough to deal with Max, but I think the Todt needs to be put into his place very firmly before the FIA completely discredits the sport and losses more fans.
In looking at the team principals available I am simply am not convinced that most would be tough enough to deal with the Todt. Certainly Patrick Head might be a possibility yet Williams is beholden to the FIA in a number of ways including financial and in fact left the fold when issues got hot earlier this year.
In the end I decided that Mike Gascoyne of the new Lotus team might be the right person. His nickname is the Rottweiler, due to his tenacity and his straight talking. He was too much for Toyota management, hopefully he will keep the Todt in its place.
This post is in response to Sidepodcast’s Thursday Thoughts and its call for posts on New Presidents at FOTA.