Todt not surprised by Ben Sulayem’s criticism of his FIA tenure: “I know the character”

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The former FIA president bites back after the caustic comments his successor had made last year on the financial status of the association when he had been appointed, countering every point covered by Ben Sulayem.

“There was a financial issue that we didn’t know about. We had a deficit, even before the pandemic, but I’m pleased to have cleared that,” the former rally driver had said at the beginning of his warrant i early 2022, admitting that he had found an undeclared deficit for “over $20m.”

In an interview issued by L’Equipe earlier this week, Todt recalled the extremely difficult conditions he had found the FIA upon his first arrival in 2009, and the trouble encountered while facing the unexpected Covid pandemic.

“When I left, there must have been more than 250 million euro in reserves. When I arrived in 2009, there were barely 40m, although the FIA had just ceded the commercial rights to F1 for a hundred years a few years earlier.”

The former Ferrari CEO and F1 team principal expressed his disagreement with the statement issued by his successor, citing the many new sources of income created in his over ten yeas as president:

“I don’t call it a deficit. When I left, the budget had been multiplied by almost three, with many new competitions and sources of income, such as Formula E, the World Endurance Championship or the Rally Raid Championship.”

Another issue contested by Ben Sulayem had been the “transparency” in a legal case, left open by Todt, regarding the title of the halo, which ultimately had ended with a settlement. Todt denies not having disclosed the matter: “It is true that we left one dispute unfinished when I left, the Hlhalo trial. But it wasn’t swept under the rug.”

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“It was well documented and monitored by our services; we presented it to the senate and the world council before I left, and the current president attended this presentation. This was a lawsuit brought in Texas by an engineer who owned a patent that was only valid in the United States and for a short time.”

“So when I left, there was nothing secret. And only one ongoing case, that one. But I wasn’t surprised, I knew who my successor was. I know the character,”

On the decision taken by Ben Sulayem in multiple fields that contrasted to the previous approach by Todt, the former co-rally driver simply commented: “Everything that was put in place during my mandate was turned upside down.”

“No, it doesn’t matter to me. And then it’s smoke,” he added on the topic of the harsh critics he received afterwards by his successor.

He also highlighted the unwavering support he had received from the FIA during his presidency, as well as recalling some of his biggest successes:

“I start from the principle that when one chapter closes, another opens and we do not allow ourselves to attack its predecessor. Whether leaving Peugeot, Ferrari or the FIA, I never said a bad word.”

“There is no point in launching into allegations, especially when they are false. The reality is what I just told you. And I will add something regarding the revenues of the FIA: it was under my presidency that the Hundred Year Agreement and Concorde Agreements between the FIA and F1 were renegotiated before Liberty Media became the owner of the FOM.

“Without going into detail, I can tell you that the income received by the Federation has very clearly increased compared to before. And its position in the governance of F1 has also been restored. It now has a third of the votes, along with FOM and the teams. It’s night and day with previous agreements.”

“You can’t stop someone from criticising or disagreeing. But everything I have done during my presidency has always been approved by the senate and the world councils,” he concluded.