Formula 1

Jean Todt Challenges Ben Sulayem’s Criticism, Defends FIA Financials and Halo Trial Management

Former FIA President Jean Todt has responded to Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s criticisms about the 2021 FIA budget deficit and Halo trial management, asserting a robust financial status and well-handled legal matters during his tenure.

Key Takeaways:

  • Retaliation Against Financial Claims: Jean Todt refuted Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s claims about a budget deficit, revealing that the FIA reserves had grown significantly during his presidency, from 40 million Euros to over 250 million Euros.
  • Defense of Halo Trial Handling: Todt addressed the Halo patent dispute, emphasizing that it was a well-documented and monitored case, presented to the FIA’s senate and world council, with Ben Sulayem in attendance.
  • Reflection on Leadership Transition: Todt expressed indifference to Ben Sulayem’s criticism, emphasizing his practice of not speaking ill of predecessors and highlighting the increased FIA revenues and improved governance position during his presidency.

In a recent turn of events, former FIA President Jean Todt has come forward to challenge the assertions made by his successor, Mohammed Ben Sulayem. The focus of this dispute is the financial state of the FIA and the handling of the Halo patent trial during Todt’s tenure. Ben Sulayem had previously raised concerns about a significant budget deficit and legal troubles he inherited, which Todt has now addressed with clarity and detail.

In 2021, Ben Sulayem took over the FIA leadership from Todt, soon after raising an alarm about a budget deficit of over $20 million. He stated, “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.” Additionally, Ben Sulayem brought up an unexpected legal battle regarding a Halo patent dispute.

Contrary to these claims, Jean Todt, in his first public statement since leaving office, presented a different narrative in an interview with L’Equipe. He pointed out the substantial growth of the FIA’s financial reserves under his leadership, multiplying nearly threefold. “When I left, there must have been more than 250 million Euros in reserves,” Todt revealed. He added, “When I arrived in 2009, there were barely 40m [Euro].”

Addressing the Halo trial, Todt clarified that the lawsuit was an ongoing case, thoroughly documented and overseen. He explained, “It is true that we left one dispute unfinished when I left, the Halo trial. But it wasn’t swept under the rug. 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.”

When asked about the impact of Ben Sulayem’s comments, Todt displayed a stance of nonchalance and principle. He asserted, “No, it doesn’t matter to me. And then it’s smoke.” He highlighted his consistent approach of not criticizing predecessors and pointed out the improvements in FIA’s financial health and governance during his term. “The reality is what I just told you,” Todt emphasized.

Concluding his defense, Todt lamented the changes made under the new leadership, stating, “Everything that was put in place during my mandate was turned upside down.” This statement underscores a profound disagreement between the past and current administrations regarding the direction and management of the FIA. As the F1 community observes these developments, the contrast in leadership styles and decisions continues to be a point of significant discussion.

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