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In October, 2009 Jean Todt was elected president of the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile following a decade and half’s rule by Max Mosley. The Frenchman has enjoyed a famously successful motorsport career, with tenures at Peugeot and Ferrari, winning World Championships in the WRC, Sportscars, Le Mans and Formula 1. Educated in Paris, Todt began his career in motorsport when he navigated for a friend in his father’s Mini Cooper S. He oversaw World Rally Championship titles with Ari Vatanen in 1985 and 1986 with Peugeot Talbot Sport and later, still with Peugeot, won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1992 and 1993.
Todt joined Ferrari as Team Principal in 1993 on the appointment of Luca di Montezemolo. Having strategically lured Michael Schumacher away from Benetton in 1996, Todt began re-building Ferrari to its once legendary status. The move brought the combination of Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne to the team and resulted in the grand figure of thirteen World Championship titles during his reign at the famous Italian marque. Despite beating his rival Ari Vatanen to the FIA Presidency with 135 votes to 49, claims of vote-buying somewhat plagued the runup to the election for the Frenchman. Having campaigned on a manifesto which promoted transparency of the FIA and a thorough review of the cost structures, Todt’s first years as president appears to have been favourably received, given that his mandate reflects the general feeling of the sport’s other decision makers. His influence in world motorsport is widely felt, but he also holds many ambassadorial roles and titles. He was made a Grand Officer in the French Legion d’Honneur in 2006 thanks to his success with Ferrari, and also holds the Malaysian equivalent of a British knighthood – the Datuk.