Opening speech of Jean Todt, FIA President, to the 2020 FIA Annual General Assembly

Opening speech of Jean Todt, FIA President, to the 2020 FIA Annual General Assembly

Dear FIA Family,

Dear Friends,

One year ago, no one could ever have imagined what was about to happen. At that time, we set up an appointment for December 2021 in Munich where ADAC had invited us. And today I stand in this big empty room with only a few members of my team and more than 400 delegates connected online…

2020 has indeed been a challenging year.

A year of disruption in the life of billion people around the planet.

The Covid-19 crisis has brought grief to some, financial issues to many, and it has changed the daily lives of us all.

To those of you who have been directly affected, within your family or your circle of friends, I would like to, once again, express my full support.

The hope of a vaccine now seems to be on the horizon.

One by one, pharmaceutical companies have been announcing very promising results. Hopefully the next weeks and months will confirm this new reality, giving us the prospect of things returning to normal.

During all this time, we never stopped our activity but we had to reorganise it.

Our AGA week is a tradition. Thanks to new technologies, we are able to respect this tradition and be together, remotely but together, to share our experiences and look to the future.

Today is a time to get together, a unique occasion to meet, exchange and take stock of our community.  184 Member clubs, Associations, coming from 122 countries around the world are gathering virtually for a total of 412 participants for the 3rd global digital reunion of our history.

New members, new leaders join historical ones, all part of a big family…

Welcome to all of you.  You represent the very bedrock of our community and you have shown courage and resilience over the last months.

Since the beginning of the health crisis, adaptability and creativity have been at the heart of our actions here at the FIA.

Faced with this situation, our aim has been clear from day 1.

To support you using all the means at our disposal.

And to be able to do so, we had

  • to preserve our ecosystem,
  • to ensure the rapid and efficient return of our FIA activities
  • and finally, to make sure the sport could restart as soon as possible

And we made it.

 Just one month after most of the world was locked down, as soon as 28 April, we had constructed different budget scenarios to enable us to overcome this crisis and we have chosen the best sustainable financial path.

The work of the past years has put the FIA in a financial position to be able to provide practical assistance in the fight against this invisible monster, and this is an achievement.

We have, among other things:

  • cancelled the Clubs’ first annual fees bracket,
  • distributed over 8 million euros to you, our Members, within the framework of our Grant Programme and FIF projects
  • as well as more than 230 000 surgical masks all over the globe.

Both our pillars have put in place strong programmes to help our Member community: the FIA Sport Clubs Solidarity and the Mobility Worldwide Programmes that were made possible thanks to new technologies.

I could mention here the 14 FIA Stronger Together Webinars for Sport, as well as the Digital Motor Sport Toolkit. 

Presented this week, the Grassroots Toolkits were highly anticipated by the Sport Clubs.  Their objective? To give advice on how to organise leisure events that are affordable and safe, and ultimately to attract new members.

As for Mobility, it quickly set up the ‘Stay Tuned’ webinars open to all FIA clubs.

But most importantly: it put in place the Mobility Worldwide Programme that has 2 goals:

1st/ to provide assistance to the Clubs in greatest need

2nd/ to create a “Toolkit” of best practices to successfully navigate a post-COVID world.

In this same line, the Mobility team launched an e-learning programme for all members under FIA University umbrella.

In terms of improving exchanges, we can salute our flexibility when it comes to important gatherings.  As an example, in only 3 weeks we organized a Mobility and Sport eConference in June with 66 speakers.

On their side, the FIA teams maintained their commitment and level of work during all the lockdown restrictions and remained in contact with you through several platforms like Zoom and Teams.

This strong digitalisation had also an impact on our Governance.

For the first time in years, on 30 November, the FIA had to organise an Extraordinary General Assembly in order to amend our Statutes to allow the distance voting and extend our electronic vote capacity.

The FIA can now operate virtually if needed – achieving a new stage of business resilience.

Restarting motor sport was one of our imperatives.

As you are all aware, Formula 1, followed by many other FIA Championships, has been the 1st International Sport competition to restart in 2020.

Thanks to our ANSs, drivers, teams, promoters, officials, volunteers, FIA staff, we have found safe and innovative ways to continue presenting our sport to millions of fans everywhere in the world.

And that was a tough challenge!

Let me express my satisfaction with this accomplishment.

A special reward for the FIA Medical Commission and its President, Prof. Gérard Saillant, as well as to the whole FIA Sport Administration. The health protocol they established following the WHO and IFRC’s recommendations was key to the restart.

Also, thanks to the work of our technical teams, the FIA has been able to provide you with the “Return to Motor Sport Guidelines” which have been presented in several digital workshops and have helped you to organise your sport events during the crisis.

At the end, F1 was able to hold a complete season, with 17 races in six months.

It is truly a collective success.

Special greetings to Italy which organised 3 F1 Grand Prix as well as 2 WRC events, to Austria, UK and Bahrain with 2 F1 Grand Prix…

But there is more. In this time of great uncertainty, we have demonstrated cohesion & solidarity!

The F1 community has come together to guarantee the sustainability of motor sport’s pinnacle. A first example is the unanimous agreement reached in April on the reduction of the cost cap level in F1 which is part of the “New Deal” proposed this year. Another great example of this is the signing of the Concorde Agreement on 19 August. This major accomplishment will ensure the stability of Formula 1 for the next five years and will allow us to serve you better.

As you know, after 4 years of strong commitment, Chase Carey will leave his position at Formula 1 to become non-executive Chairman.  He will be replaced by Stefano Domenicali. I wish them the best.

In these difficult times, we have managed to hold a total of 526 motor sport events on the international calendar registered by a total of 53 ASNs.

Let’s salute several achievements as that of Lewis Hamilton with his 7th   F1 World Champion title – equalling Michael Schumacher – and that of Mercedes 7th F1 World Constructor title. Congratulations also to Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia who became WRC World Champions for the 7th time.

For the other Championships as well, the season was intense in many ways.

Let’s start with WRC:

The Rally community has been imaginative and has created a 7-event calendar with new venues and formats like Rally Estonia and ACI Rally Monza.

For 2021, we hope to return to a more regular calendar.

And our vision is already set on 2022, with the introduction of the new Hybrid Rally1 cars and the renewed commitment of the manufacturers currently involved.

I also congratulate the entire FIA World Endurance Championship community.

The original number of eight rounds was maintained. And the world’s greatest endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, took place in September, unfortunately without spectators.

The future looks promising: next season will see the arrival of the Hypercar category.

FORMULA E has shown great adaptability.

The end of the season took place in Berlin and crowned Antonio DaCosta and the DS Techeetah team. 

We are looking forward to the start of the 1st Formula E World Championship in a few weeks in Santiago du Chili, and to the arrival of the Gen 3 car in 2022.

Regarding WRX – the Championship started in August with events in Sweden and then in Finland, and a new promoter will soon be appointed. Rallycross is also set to become the first FIA championship to feature electric cars derived from passenger cars in 2021.

Karting, the base of the single seater pyramid and the school of motor sport, continues to be an exciting entry discipline for competitors of all ages and all backgrounds, as well as F2 F3 and F4 which also provide us with excellent racing.

In WTCR, following joint work between the FIA and the promoter in reducing the Touring Car season costs, the Championship could happen.

I have a special thought for the other FIA Championships such as Historic, Hill Climb, Truck and Dragster that could not restart and present a complete season.

This year, and especially during the lockdown, a new discipline has emerged: DIGITAL motor sport.  In 2020, we have promoted the eSports activities under the banner #raceathome and defined our FIA digital Motorsport strategy including the creation of a dedicated Commission.

Obviously, due to the sanitary situation, the Motorsport Games couldn’t take place in 2020 at le Castellet in the South of France and have been postponed to next year. We are looking forward to the second edition of this exciting competition.

Motor sport remains dangerous, this is why SAFETY is one of our top priorities.

2020 has been hit by the accident of Romain Grosjean that could have had a tragic ending. We are thankful for the positive outcome and can salute the significant progress made in terms of circuit safety over the last decades.

The Halo has already saved several lives. We must continue our efforts on protecting drivers. This is the reason for being of the Serious Accident Study Group.

About safety equipment, I wish to make a special highlight on helmets.  At the FIA, we are convinced that our sport is a powerful laboratory. Our technological innovations on helmets should be beneficial to all.

That’s why the Federation leads 2 important initiatives: the helmet safety rating project, and the safe and affordable helmet project that encourages and facilitates the deployment of a motorcycle helmet that meets UN safety standards.

The helmet we worked on is comfortable in hot and humid climates and will be available at an affordable price – around 20 US $.  I count on you to promote it in your respective countries.

I enjoy this opportunity to thank the FIA Foundation, a member of our family, for its support to this project. During this year, we continued to develop synergies with the FIA Foundation to deliver stronger results in road safety advocacy and environment. I commend my friend George Robertson and Saul Billingsley for their great commitment.

It is time to talk about the impact of 2020 on MOBILITY.

The global crisis has highlighted a range of new issues, new challenges that we are beginning to address together in order to reach our common goal: safe and sustainable mobility.

Following a successful Third Global Ministerial Conference in Stockholm held in February, the UN General Assembly adopted a new resolution on Improving Global Road Safety. It sets an ambitious target for the next 10 years and proclaims the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety.

2020 has shown us that change is possible and that we don’t have to accept the status quo as a norm. We can now imagine a different vision.

We, FIA and Member Clubs, in conjunction with our key partners and stakeholders, are well placed to drive, lead and contribute to this new safe mobility culture and this is a strong shift.

This is at the heart of the new road safety advocacy strategy, which was presented and endorsed at the World Council for Mobility on Tuesday and will continue to chart our future path. 

As part of global road safety leadership, the FIA will provide direction, build capacity and enhance engagement.

Within this framework, the High Level Panel for Road Safety can lead change, promoting road safety as a value.

And I have to recall our #3500 LIVES Campaign born in 2017. In cooperation with JC Decaux, it has been displayed in 1,157 cities in 79 countries and will continue throughout 2021. In 2020, the 17 Ambassadors have accepted to join our effort against Covid-19 with a message “Stay home, Stay safe.”

You have also heard about MOVISM that took a step forward in 2020 and has a vision to become an enduring movement promoting safer and smarter mobility.

The fundraising activities should support the UN Road Safety Trust Fund, and other projects presented by YOU, our members.

Road safety is no longer an independent public health and safety initiative: cities, for example, have a key role to create a more livable environment.

This leads us to the Smart Cities initiative, which was successfully promoted digitally in 2020. This programme aims to ensure that mobility in the cities of tomorrow is safer, cleaner and more accessible for all road users.

A word also on tourism that has been one of the main covid-19’s business casualties. This is why the dedicated department is launching a modern information platform named “VIAFIA” that will keep you up to date with the latest developments in tourism.

More generally, in 2020, our community has achieved much.

Under the #RaceagainstCovid banner, we partnered with the Red Cross to raise about €2m for the global response to the Covid-19 crisis with the support of the FIA Foundation and the entire racing community.

A successful online charity auction was made possible thanks to the active role of the President of the FIA Drivers’ Commission, Tom Kristensen, and the generosity of RM Sotheby’s.

This was an opportunity to strengthen the cooperation between FIA Member Clubs and IFRC promoting interventions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

As far as the Environment is concerned, we already introduced hybrid engines in Formula 1 and created Formula E in 2014, joined the UN Sport for Climate Action Framework and worked on a Sustainable Fuel….

Throughout 2020, under the strong leadership of Felipe Calderon, the FIA Environment and Sustainability Commission has formulated a comprehensive framework for an FIA Environmental Strategy.

We now have a double objective: being carbon neutral in 2021 and net-zero carbon in 2030.  It is a great ambition!

Through the FIA’s Innovation Fund, we joined the #WeRaceAsOne Formula 1 initiative that aims to improve diversity and inclusion in motor sport.

We have also continued to develop Gender Equality through the Women in Motorsport Commission and FIF projects such as “Girls on Track – Rising stars.” The objective: to bring more women at the highest level of motor sport.  I salute here Michele Mouton’s work and commitment.

I should mention the Statutes Review Commission on that matter. Indeed, in 2020, a better gender representation was discussed and reflected in our structures. And It is just the beginning.

We are also addressing the Human Rights issue and I encourage your participation to our consultations on this subject.

Let me also say a word about the Disability and Accessibility Commission that aims to ensure accessible racing and motoring across both the Sport and Mobility pillars. I take this opportunity to express my special thanks to Nathalie Mc Gloin for her great work.

These are only a few examples and we, at the FIA, are determined to drive forward the positive impact our two pillars can make.

As the regulator of motor sport and a major player in mobility, we have a particular responsibility towards the society and this is why we are launching the #PurposeDriven movement : to formalize and amplify this commitment.

To inspire action, the FIA will focus its efforts within four key ‘Purpose’ areas: Health & Safety, Environment, Diversity & Inclusion and Community Development.

The FIA will work with you to develop tools that would ultimately be useful to you.

For the #PurposeDriven Movement to succeed, we need everyone’s energy and creativity and I urge each of you to join us.

A word about Ethics and Compliance that is an important matter to me since the beginning of my first mandate. The hotline was created in May as planned.  Since then, anyone with genuine concerns about ethical behaviour, governance or compliance matters, can raise them confidentially. And this is an important legacy.

More than ever, in these unprecedented times, our Federation must play its role as a strong global actor.

In 2020, we have partnered with the UN, and several of its agencies such as UNDP, UNHabitat, UNECE, the World Bank, the WHO, International Federations such as IOC, FIFA, UEFA, IAAF, UCI, FIM, on crucial topics such as road safety, sustainable mobility and the response to Covid-19.

We have collaborated with all these global actors because we are one of them.  And we have to act accordingly. It will make our organisation STRONGER. Use it to make yours stronger!

In conclusion, I’d like to thank you.

You, our Members.  

My team: Brian, Graham and Thierry. 

The Vice-Presidents and Members of our 2 World Councils,

Senate Members, Presidents and their Commissions, the Members of our Ethics and Audit Committees,

and our Courts. 

FIA Volunteers – without them, no competition could take place.

Our staff in Paris and Geneva and their continuous loyalty to the organisation.

I also express my special thanks to Andrew Mckellar, Secretary General for Mobility, for his dedication to the FIA and its members. The organisation has benefited from his experience and I do hope that, back in Australia, he will have good memories of his 6 years spent with us.  I wish him the best for the future.

My friends,

This health emergency has reminded us of the reality that we had for the most part forgotten: our vulnerability and the fragility of the human condition.

This pushes us to work even more closely together to help each other overcome the difficulties 2020 has imposed on us.

This call for global unity and cooperation has been a priority of my 11 years as your President. 

I now have one more year in front of me.

Rest assured that I will put all my heart and energy into making it meaningful and rewarding for all of you until the last minute. 

Thank you.

Source : Fia