Todt Confirms Ferrari's Refusal to Support Jordan

Ferrari sporting director, Jean Todt, confirmed today that the Italian team notified Jordan Grand Prix earlier this year they would not support providing Jordan with money from the Fighting Fund as long as Jordan was suing Ferrari's sponsor, Vodafone.

Todt Confirms Ferrari's Refusal to Support Jordan

Ferrari sporting director, Jean Todt, confirmed today that the Italian team notified Jordan Grand Prix earlier this year they would not support providing Jordan with money from the Fighting Fund as long as Jordan was suing Ferrari's sponsor, Vodafone.

Giving testimony today at the High Court in London, England, in the case of Jordan versus Vodafone, Todt told the court his team was willing to support a fighting fund, consisting of money owed to the now-defunct Arrows team, for Minardi only. He said the money, which was due to be distributed among all teams, was proposed by Bernie Ecclestone to be divided between struggling Minardi and Jordan only.

However, Todt said that "we did not agree to lose some financial advantage to the profit of Jordan because we feel that there is no reason for us to give him a certain amount of money while there is a court case with one of our principal sponsors."

Asked by Jordan's lawyer whether his actions could not be seen as blackmail, Todt stated: "That was not our interpretation. I think Jordan is free to have his interpretation, as we are free to have our interpretation, but do not forget that this money belongs to us. With money which is supposed to belong to us, it is clear that we do what we want."

Below is an extract from the transcript of Todt's testimony today, covering the Fighting Fund affair. Todt is cross-examined by one of Jordan's legal team, Mr. Tregear:

Q. Can you confirm that there is a fund of money which is controlled by Formula 1 Management Limited which relates to the Arrows team, which dropped out of the Grand Prix series in 2002. That is correct, is it not?

Todt:

Yes.

Q. I think it is called Arrows column 2 and 3, or column 1, money.

Todt:

Yes.

Q. That money is available to be distributed by Formula 1 Management to other teams ----

Todt:

No; to all the teams. To be divided by the ten teams involved in Formula 1.

Q. Yes; but if all the teams agree, it could be paid to the smaller teams, who are at the moment Jordan and Minardi?

Todt:

If all the teams agree, yes.

Q. If all the teams agree.

Todt:

Yes.

Q. I accept that. The suggestion was made, at a meeting of team principals, that the money should be paid to Jordan and Minardi in order to assist them with the high costs of maintaining engines.

Todt:

In order to assist them, but you have other teams who have the same financial problems who pay their engines. If you take the Sauber team, the Sauber team is paying full price to Ferrari for its engine. So it is not only two teams who have to pay for their engine and who have problems to pay for their engine.

Q. The proposal, however, was that the Arrows money, if I can call it that, was to be distributed to Jordan and to Minardi?

Todt:

Could be. Could be. If it would be a unanimous agreement, and Ferrari's position is, and was, that it was no way we would accept to lose some entry in our budget to give an advantage to a team which we feel is raising some big problems to one of our sponsors, and it was our decision and we decided to do so. If it is a correct decision, it is up to us to decide.

Q. Yes. Just before we look at some letters, the Sauber team, which you gave as an example of a smaller team, in fact agreed that the money should be paid to Jordan and Minardi, did it not?

Todt:

No, they did not sign the document.

Q. They did not sign the document, but they had agreed in principle ----

Todt:

Again, for signing, once that was addressed during the team principal meeting, Bernie Ecclestone circulated a letter amongst the teams, or his account manager, Sasha Hoodern, or something like that, and she circulated a letter amongst the team principals whether they will agree or not and they had to sign. Ferrari did not sign and I am convinced that a lot of teams did not sign this paper. Once this paper would have been signed, then the money could have been distributed. It has not been distributed to no team, which is Minardi and which is Jordan, but Minardi did not get the money either.

Q. There should be behind you, Mr. Todt, a bundle marked X. The proposal you spoke of that was circulated by Ecclestone's lawyer, I believe, was that all the teams should sign a letter consenting to paying the Arrows money to Jordan and Minardi. That was signed by some teams, was it not?

Todt:

You should ask Mr. Ecclestone. I do not know if it was signed or not signed. I can tell you if Ferrari signed or not. But, again, that is easy to find out.

Q. There was a meeting at Interlagos in April this year, a team principals meeting, where the question of the payment of the Arrows money was discussed?

Todt:

Umm-mm.

Q. And at that meeting, you made it clear that you would not support the payment of money to Jordan unless and until Jordan dropped its claim against Vodafone?

Todt:

At this meeting in Interlagos I reminded to Bernie Ecclestone that Ferrari sent him a letter saying why we were not prepared to have our money going to Jordan and when we were in the meeting together, I expressed that in front of the other team principals.

Q. Yes, but what you said was that you would not agree to any money being paid to Jordan or to Minardi ----

Todt:

No. To Minardi we agreed to pay.

Q. It has not been paid to Minardi, has it?

Todt:

It has not been paid because other teams did not sign, but Ferrari signed in favour of Minardi.

Q. On 14th April, Jordan wrote to you to complain about the position that you had taken at Interlagos?

Todt:

Yes. He has handed me the letter in the motor home. I think it was in Imola.

Q. Yes. If you look at tab 1 of bundle X, which you have in front of you, that is a copy of the letter in which -- you are familiar with the letter, are you?

Todt:

Yes, yes.

Q. Mr. Jordan complains that you would not support the distribution of the Arrows money unless and until the case against Vodafone was dropped.

Todt:

I confirm that we did not agree to lose some financial advantage to the profit of Jordan because we feel that there is no reason for us to give him a certain amount of money while there is a court case with one of our principal sponsors. It is our logic, and for me it is clear that if we have a disagreement through such a situation, we are not going to give money. It is a company decision. It is a Ferrari decision. Ferrari does not belong to me.

Q. No, I accept that, but it is, you would accept, a way of placing pressure on the Jordan team ----

Todt:

Not pressure, explaining why, giving a reason, why we would not accept to distribute some money which is due to Ferrari. I do not see where there is pressure. We give an explanation.

Q. As I suggested earlier, there are a number of teams which have agreed to money, which they would otherwise be entitled to, going to Jordan and Minardi, but that you in particular have refused to agree, not because Ferrari wants the money but because Jordan has brought a claim against Vodafone?

Todt:

I think I explained already quite at length this problem. We will go around and you will tell me the same question and I will give you the same answer and I think we will not move forwards.

Q. Mr. Jordan complained to you at Interlagos that what you were doing appeared to be a bully boy tactic, which smacked of inaudible and blackmail?

Todt:

That was his interpretation. That was not our interpretation. I think Jordan is free to have his interpretation, as we are free to have our interpretation, but do not forget that this money belongs to us. With money which is supposed to belong to us, it is clear that we do what we want.

The full transcript of Jean Todt's testimony today can be read here

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