BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Jean Todt had been president of the FIA since 2009, but he stepped down at the end of December as the FIA’s bylaws do not permit him to run for another term.
Mohamed Ben Sulayem was elected in mid-December to replace Todt as president of the FIA.
Todt, a 76-year-old Frenchman, is not planning to retire. Sources in Italy say that he is planning a sensational return to Ferrari.
Todt ran Ferrari’s Formula 1 program from July of 1993 until the end of the 2006 season.
He headed up the “super team” consisting of technical director Ross Brawn, car designer Rory Byrne and, of course, Michael Schumacher. They won five drivers’ world championships and five constructors’ championships.
Todt quit the racing team at the same time that Schumacher retired for the first time at the end of 2006, but he remained with the car company, rising to the role of president in the middle of 2007.
Rather mysteriously, he left Ferrari in the middle of 2009.
During the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend Todt published a photo on social media in which he was with his son Nicolas, Felipe Massa, Charles Leclerc and Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto. Todt has allegedly already agreed with Binotto what responsibilities he will take should he rejoin Ferrari early next year.
His role being to liaise with the FIA, Formula 1 and major sponsors, leaving the running of the race team and the contacts with other teams to Binotto, who will remain as team principal.
The only obstacle to the deal seems to be Ferrari chairman John Elkann, who is hesitating to accept Todt’s offer. The young heir of the Agnelli family is aware of the circumstances that led to Todt’s sudden departure from Ferrari more than 12 years ago and also fears a media backlash should the team get the former FIA president on its payroll.
The other Formula 1 teams would certainly be against such a deal, not only because Todt would be dealing with people he placed in the FIA during his long tenure as president, but also because he enjoys a close personal relationship with Formula 1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali, who was his No. 2 in his final years at Scuderia Ferrari.
In any case, like other veterans of the paddock, Todt seems determined to remain in the sport in important and profitable positions at an age the common mortals only hope to enjoy peace and good health after more than five decades of hard work.