Jean Todt insists Ferrari is not in the sort of crisis today that he found at Maranello more than two decades ago. The Frenchman, now FIA president, said any comparison between when he was drafted in by Luca di Montezemolo to rebuild the team in 1993 and Ferrari's current situation "makes me smile".
"I think Ferrari, today, does not need an awful lot to put things back in order," Todt, who presided over Ferrari throughout its ultra-successful Michael Schumacher era until last decade, told the Italian newspaper Il Giornale.
Ferrari, having failed to win a drivers' title since 2007 and faltering at the start of the all-new V6 era, has shed multiple top personnel this season including team boss Stefano Domenicali and now long-time president Montezemolo. But Todt, 68, insists: "This is absolutely not (comparable to) the situation I found when I arrived in 1993 at a completely devastated myth."
Others, however, including former team driver Alain Prost, have compared Ferrari's troubles in 2014 to the shambolic 1991 season, when he was fired for criticising the state of the car and team. "I disagree," Todt said. "I find all these criticisms of Ferrari today unjust," he insisted.
"When (Fernando) Alonso retired at Monza, he was the driver who until then had the record for the most number of grands prix always in the points," said Todt. "But when I started, it was a miracle if the car finished the race."
However, Todt does not criticise Fiat-Chrysler chairman Sergio Marchionne for removing Montezemolo, undoubtedly the man most universally recognised as representing the past and present of Ferrari. "Montezemolo has been president for 23 years," said Todt, "which is a very long time. At some point, in large groups, this (sort of change) is normal. Even for myself, I always knew that a period eventually closes."
Meanwhile, Todt was present for the first ever race of the FIA-sanctioned Formula E race in Beijing last weekend, and he predicts a bright future for the category. He revealed that representatives of many car manufacturers were all also present, including those from Japan but also from "France, Germany and China". (GMM)