Opening speech by Jean Todt, FIA President, for the 1st FIA Joint eConference -15 June 2020 “Shape the future together”


Dear FIA Family,

Dear Friends

I am pleased to open the first FIA Sport and Mobility joint eConference of our history.

For the past months, we have been through a storm, but we are still standing.


The whole world has been affected by Covid-19 with more than 7 million declared cases and almost half a million deaths. Unfortunately, it is not over yet: many countries and people are still in the eye of the hurricane. I would like to express my solidarity with all of you who have suffered directly or indirectly from the virus, and to salute the whole FIA community for its resilience. We have proved our capacity to adapt and we will keep fighting to overcome this unprecedented crisis in the best possible conditions. And today, thanks to the same technological means that allowed us to telework during the lockdown, we are together, remotely, but together. Some of us are in our studios in Paris, London and Geneva. As for me, as you can see, I am standing over the beautiful Place de la Concorde where traffic is pretty light. I have a special thought for our Club RAAT in Thailand and its team that should have been welcoming us to the 2020 Sports Conference tomorrow. But we are definitively looking forward to visiting you in the future. I’d like to thank you all for attending this innovative event: Presidents and managers of our ASN, Mobility Clubs and ACN, Graham Stoker, FIA Deputy President for Sport, Thierry Willemarck, FIA Deputy President for Mobility, Automobile and Tourism, and finally, all the FIA departments involved, for the energy, creativity and time that have gone into the preparation of this first global virtual gathering. We count almost 850 registrants coming from many of the 243 affiliated organisations of the FIA from 146 countries, FIA staff, and speakers – working together to ensure the continued health of motor sport and mobility worldwide.

Welcome to all of you!

As always and for the next days, our priority is to better understand and respond to your urgent needs and expectations as well as to discuss post Covid-19 Scenarios. Sport sessions will not only explore how to better support the Member Clubs as well as the restart of activities and the return to racing in the best conditions, but also the significant contribution of motor sport to society. What we call the New Deal for Motorsport. Mobility sessions will address how we can help our member Clubs prepare and adapt to major disruption, the impact of the crisis on tourism activities and scenarios for the future, as well as the emerging strategies for advocacy in support of safe and sustainable mobility. We will also enjoy the participation of global leaders who have accepted to be with us, to share their vision and experience. This is a testimony of their trust towards the FIA. In addition, our Club and Commission’ Presidents and members will also contribute greatly to the success of the eConference by telling us about their best practices and expertise. I warmly thank them. All together, we will imagine solutions for the future through debates, discussions and team works animated by our talented moderators: Edie Lush, one of the leading hosts at the World Economic Forum and James Allen, well-known President at Motorsport network. You know it: from the first day of the crisis, we have constantly been adapting the FIA in order to overcome the challenges brought by the Covid-19 and emerge even stronger. To that effect, we have optimised the budget, reorganised our expenses and developed unique working and operational methods such as a different way of meeting with you. This eConference is indeed a demonstration of this. During this challenging period, the FIA has been working around the clock to provide assistance to its member communities as part of its duty to provide leadership and support at this difficult time. The FIA has always kept contact with you, in particular through the liaison office, and will continue to do so in order to understand the impact of the crisis on each of you.

Dear Member Clubs, supporting you will always be our priority. As far as sport is concerned, since the beginning of the crisis, with the entire motor sport community, our Federation has been committed to fighting the epidemic through many initiatives such as #RaceagainstCovid #raceathome or the important Sport Clubs Solidarity Programme. It has been built to further unify our ASNs and ACNs and help them, as well as our Championships’ promoters and drivers, navigate the current crisis, while preparing them for a new reality. More than ever, we put a great emphasis on the safe organisation of sustainable motor sport compliant with the guidance of Governments and WHO public health advice. Additionally, the FIA opened its Sport Grants Programme in May, earlier than usual, so that this support to Clubs can be deployed as quickly as possible.

Today, on the 15 of June, an important online charity auction is launched in partnership with R.M Sotheby’s in the benefit of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ response to the pandemic. We count 93 donations from 66 people. I salute the generosity of many team principals, drivers, as well as leaders and personalities who have accepted to give some very exclusive and personal lots to support the cause. It is yet another opportunity to show the strength and unity of our community. Feel free to participate! The auction lasts until 22 June.

Even if the pandemic has strongly impacted our motor sport agenda, the FIA F1 Championship will restart in Austria, in 20 days, on 5 July. We are aiming for 8 to 10 races after Monza. Regarding the other championships, Formula E is decided to resume in August in Germany, WEC will continue with a race in Spa, then the 24H of Le Mans with a season final in Bahrein in November. On its side, the World Rally Championship is currently considering alternatives scenarios with a restart in September including the reinstatement of postponed events to ensure that we have the best possible opportunity to complete the 2020 series. World Rally Cross is aiming at resuming its season in August with a series of doubleheader weekends in Sweden, Finland etc. WTCR will start again in September in Austria and will end in Italy in November, after a few races all located in Europe. Further details on the general motor sport agenda will arrive soon. Last week, we published and sent to all our Sport Clubs the “FIA return to motor sport guidelines” to ensure the best restart possible of the competitions. I take this opportunity to thank all the stakeholders for this achievement: our FIA Sport, Safety, Legal teams and experts who worked hard under the authority of Professor Gérard Saillant, our FIA Medical Commission President. Rest assured that the health and safety of all will continue to be our priority.

During this challenging time, the Mobility division has also been closer than ever to its Clubs. It put quickly in place the online and free “Stay Tuned” programme in order to allow fruitful exchanges. Like for the Sport Clubs, the membership fees have been suspended until end of September and more is to come. The Mobility Worldwide programme, which supports clubs through dedicated advice and expertise, is being deployed these days.  Also, a survey has been sent a couple of days ago to identify the impact of this crisis on our clubs. Furthermore, the 2020 FIA Road Safety Grants Programme call for applications opened on 18 May and will remain open until 6 July. Members can present not only traditional road safety-oriented projects, but also initiatives that Clubs can develop in cooperation with IFRC National Societies in response to the COVID-19 crisis.


We are here for our Clubs, ASNs and ACNs in order to build a brighter future together. To do so, we have identified 5 main objectives or ambitions:

1st: Improve the natural audience of the FIA and its member clubs

The FIA family has always been stronger together. Thanks to our collective work and commitment, our influence should reach beyond our natural topics. With the grant campaigns and tools that we have put in place coupled with the good ideas you will bring forward, the FIA and its members can and will expand levels of impact.

2nd ambition: Deliver a New Deal for motor sport

What is the New Deal I publicly proposed during the lockdown? As you know, in the 30’s, Roosevelt’s New Deal allowed to overcome the global crisis that had shaken the world at that time. Our “New Deal” means laying the foundations for the recovery and an ambitious and sustainable future for motor sport. That’s why:

  • We have introduced new rules to reduce costs, in F1 and all our Championships and categories, for the racing teams but also for the organisation of competitions,
  • We are reflecting on the positioning of our championships and their mutual complementarity,.
  • And we discuss about how to increase motor sport popularity while bringing it closer to other fundamental societal goals such as those that relate to the environment.

Moreover, the New Deal involves mass participation (digital motor sport is a good example of an effective mean to push motor sport Boundaries) as well as a new Business model with franchise system: a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.

3rd ambition: Take part in the worldwide debate on mobility

Clearly, the Covid 19 and the confining that resulted from it have strongly impacted the mobility world.  The lockdown that half of the global population has experienced was the opportunity to realize how much we value personal mobility & resilient transportation systems. To a certain extent, mobility is life. Access to a wide range of choices is what we stand for. With more and more data available in real time, our Clubs are well positioned to harness this information and to deliver more immediate services to their members. I know that, in particular, our Clubs in Region 1 are working hard with the European Commission to safeguard access to data for the owners of motor vehicles and this too is a vital issue that we must support. We could become the “go-to” organization when questions of mobility are discussed around the world.  We have the knowledge, the information and the experience that is essential for an informed debate. Our ambition should be to show that to the world.

4th ambition: Reinvigorate road safety actions

Road safety remains one of our strong ambitions and this crisis has revealed new challenges. It is time to re-set the debate in which “safety as a core value” should be at the centre of everything we do and in the design of the road transportation systems. I strongly defended this idea during the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm in February alongside the FIA High Level Panel’s members. Accelerating innovations and uptake of technology in both developed and developing economies will provide new pathways to preserve people’s lives on the roads. My book Millions of lives to save on the roads, that I sent you a few months ago, has help to set the alarm bells ringing, but it’s not enough. We need each and every one of you to join the fight against one of the most devastating pandemics.

5th ambition: Reveal the FIA’s contribution to broader society

FIA is a global actor and its role doesn’t stop at the frontiers of motor sport and mobility. Our Federation has been committed for many years to protecting environment with, for example, the signing at the beginning of the year of the @UN Sports for Climate Action Framework. We also keep on strengthening our partnership with the IFRC, multiplying common initiatives. In the particular context, the FIA is neither indifferent nor insensitive to world events. We will thus pursue our mission to bring the entire world together through sport and mobility services, whilst respecting the scope of our mandate. Our Federation will continue to be guided for all Motorsport and Mobility matters by the Fundamental Principles of our Statutes which state that the FIA should fight any form of discrimination and notably on account of skin colour, religion, ethnic or social origin… As we promote gender equality with FIA Women in Motor Sport Commission, we must promote diversity in Motor Sport.

Create a New Deal for motor sport, reinvigorate mobility and road safety, enhance our influence through our contribution to society, these are our major ambitions for the times to come. They will guide our future actions as well as the upcoming three days of exchanges.I am sure our discussions will be very fruitful and will lead us to strong decisions. I propose that we assess the progress made at our December Munich meeting on the occasion of the Annual General Assembly. Thank you again for being here and for taking part in this first-of-a-kind e-event. At this difficult time, I wish you all continued safety and health and I declare the 2020 FIA Sport and Mobility eConference open!