FIA president Jean Todt says he admires Mercedes’ dominance in Formula One’s latest turbo era, as his own success at Ferrari in the early 2000s makes him aware of the efforts needed to sustain that level of performance.
Since 2014 and the introduction of the current hybrid V6 power units, the German manufacturer has claimed three championship doubles, won 51 race, and secured 56 pole positions out of 59 grands prix.
This hegemony has often been blamed for the decline in TV ratings, lack of interest among fans, and making F1 too predictable. However, Todt, who led the Scuderia during the golden Michael Schumacher era, thinks Mercedes and new world champion Nico Rosberg deserve recognition for their achievements.
“Nico was driving an amazing car because you know in motor racing, it’s a very specific sport: you need a car, a team, a driver and at this level everything has to be ultra important,” the Frenchman told reporters ahead of the end-of-year Prize giving ceremony in Vienna.
“Under Toto Wolff’s tutorship, Mercedes has been able to put all these ingredients together and enjoy success. Very often, I’ve heard complaints about Mercedes being too strong, their drivers being too strong but they have been too strong because they have done the best job.
“I must say I was fortunate enough to live that in another part of my life and I admire what they’ve done because I know the efforts you need to give.”
Speaking just before Rosberg announced his shock retirement from Formula One, Todt was equally full of praise for the German driver.
“He has had to fight a great champion, Lewis Hamilton. At the end of the day, he has been the best of the season because he won the championship. I read quite a lot about one of them having a retirement and so on. Both had their own problems during the season.
“I remember when he lost a few points after we made a change to the regulations. And I remember thinking that it could affect the end of the championship, which it did not [Rosberg was demoted from second to third at the British Grand Prix following unauthorised radio messages. The ensuing backlash led F1 chiefs to make a U turn and lift their ban on radio communications].
“A lot of parameters have happened over the course of the season and the winner is Nico Rosberg in the end so I congratulate him for his amazing achievement.”