Jean Todt is the French motorsports executive who began his career as a rally co-driver in motorsports management with Peugeot Talbot Sport and Scuderia Ferrari. He was the chief executive Officer of Ferrari from 2006 to 2008 and served as a President of the Federation International de I’Automobile (FIA). Under his direction, Peugeot has won 4 World Rally Championship title, 4 Paris-Dakar Rally, and two Le Mans 25 Hours. He also won 14 Formula One World Championship titles. He is the fiancée of actress Michelle Yeoh.
Early Life and Education
Jean Todt was born on 25th February 1946, in Pierrefort, a southern Cantal village in the Auvergne region of France. His father was a Jewish doctor who fled Poland to France when he was 17. From childhood, he was passionate about cars and motor racing.
He attended Ecole des Dirigeants et Createurs d’Enterprise (EDC) business school in Paris. During the period, he spent his spare time tuning cars with a group of friends at the Madeleine garage in Asnieres near Paris.
After completing high school, he studied at the Ecole des Cadres School of Economics and Business.
Todt began his career as a rally co-driver and participated in the World Championship rallies with most of the car manufacturers together with international rally drivers including Guy Frequwlin. He tasted his first victory winning the Constructors’ World Rally Championship with Talbot Lotus. Then he represented the drivers in the FISA (Federation International du Sports Automobile) Rally Commission, from 1975 to 1981.
He first co-drove with Guy Chasseuil in 1966 and quickly made him a sought-after navigator. During the period, he was involved with world-class rally stars, Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Rauno Aaltonen, Ove Andersson, Hannu Mikkola and Guy Frequelin. He also enjoyed success as a co-driver with Jean-Hannu Mikkola, Jean-Claude Lefebvre, Timo Makinen and Jean-Pierre Nicolas. He won the manufacturers World Rally Championship with Talbot, a Peugeot and was a runner-up in the drivers’ World Rally Championship.
Director of Peugeot Talbot Sport
In 1981, he retired as a co-driver and was appointed as a Director of Racing for Peugeot by then CEO Jean Boillot when PSA Peugeot Citroen was facing major financial difficulties and image problems. As an organizer and strategist, he applied his abilities to the creation of Peugeot Talbot Sports set up to spearhead the French firm’s return to the competition. He is also taken as a mastermind behind the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16, and Peugeot 905.
He returned to the World Rally Championship in 1984, 1985 and 1986 where the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Group B was driven by Timo Salonen and then by Juha Kankkunen in the World Championship titles. During 1986, he lost Henri Toivonen when he was driving a Lancia Delta S4 in the Tour de Corse rally. Later, the FIA decided to drop the Group B class for being too fast and too dangerous.
The following year, he adopted the 205 Turbo 16 to off-road rallies competing in the showcase Paris-Dakar Rally. He also became the central attention in the 1989 Paris-Dakar when he tossed a coin to choose best drivers among Ari Vatanen and Jacky Ickx. He oversaw four successive victories in the Paris-Dakar with Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen from 1987 to 1990.
He also won the Le Mans 24 Hours with the Peugeot 905 which was driven by Derek Warwick, Yannick Dalmas and Mark Blundell in 1992 and again in 1993 at the Le Mans, three 905 cars which were driven by Geoff Braham, Christophe Bouchut and Eric Helary.
From 1994 to 2007, he became the CEO of Scuderia Ferrari, as his challenge was to lead Ferrari back to success at a time when the renowned Italian Formula One stable was experiencing the worst day in its history. A year after he took up the challenge, Gerhard Berger won the German Grand Prix which was Ferrari’s first win in 4 years.
He managed to win two consecutive races, first the Belgian and then the Italian Grand Prix in 1996, but in 1997 and 1998, he missed out the world drivers’ title by a few points during the final races. He also set a record of a first in the history of Formula One achieving his goal of reviving Ferrari winning victories with Schumacher in five consecutive world championships 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.
CEO and Special Advisor at Ferrari and President of FIA
On 1st June 2004, he was appointed CEO of Ferrari, and two years later, after the end of the Formula One season and the following the retirement of Michael Schumacher, he was appointed as a Special Advisory for the Scuderia Ferrari.
On 23rd October 2009, he was elected President of the Federation Internationale de I’Automobile where he won 135 votes against 49 for Finnish driver and MEP Ari Vatanen.
Moreover, he is a member of the French Academie ses sports and Academie des technologies. Not only this, he sits on the board of directors of the Group Lucien Barriere, Edmond de Rothschild SA, and Gaumont Film Company. He is also an administrator of the Societe des Amis du Musee d’Art modern de la ville de Paris.
He is also associated with different companies: as he is a founding member of the ICM, ambassador for the Republic of San Marino and Tourism Ambassador for Malaysia. In December 2014, he was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Suu Foundation. Now, he is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Peace Institute.
Todt is the fiancée of an actress, Michelle Yeon, since 2008. The couple began dating since 2004 and exchanged rings in 2008. First, they kept their relationship hidden but later, Yeon revealed their relationship to the world through NBC’s show, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. The duo is still in a relationship somehow, they are not married yet.
He has a son named Nicolas Todt from his mysterious wife. He hasn’t disclosed the identity regarding the mother of his wife. His son, Nicolas was born in 1977. He is a co-owner of the ART Grand Prix GP2 team.
Being one of the well-known business personality, Jean Todt has successfully collected an estimated net worth of $18 million. His fiancé is also one of the famous personality of the Hollywood industry who has an estimated net worth of $40 million.
Jean Todt Affairs
Second Affair with Michelle Yeoh
Michelle Yeoh became Jean Todt fiance after they exchanged rings in 2008. Michelle Yeoh is a Malaysian actress better known for her role in the movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for which she was nominated for BAFTA Awards in 2000. She was one of the 50 Most BEautiful People in the World chosen by People Magazine.