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GP Week : Issue 41
Todt and Lewis Hamilton in the GP2 days (right); with Bourdais (below right) and Rosberg. (far right) – 2005 GP2 champ. Todt and Vasseur (below). GP2 Media Service GP2 Media Service needed to find a driver for one year, and it’s not easy to find a top driver just for one year. But Felipe was already contracted to them on a long term basis, so it made sense for them to take him.” Both Nicolas and his driver took a lot of flak in the press that season, as Ferrari was widely criticised and questioned for signing Massa. It is when reflecting on moments such as that 2006 season however, that Massa’s performance last season provides Nicolas with the greatest pride. “Oh, a lot, a huge satisfaction!” he smiles. “Because first of all when Felipe arrived at Ferrari there was more talk about me than about him. Now nobody 34 talks about me and that means he did a good job. But, you know, last season was a great satisfaction.” As Massa’s reputation grew as a driver, so too did Todt’s as a manager. The next logical step, for him, was to expand into team management. “When GP2 was launched I spoke to Flavio [Briatore] and he told me that I should set up a team. I thought very carefully and for me I thought it made sense because if I decided to manage other drivers it would make sense to have them in my team. “I didn’t have enough experience in the business and I didn’t want to spend all of my time running a team by myself, so I tried to find the best team to be my partner. At that time, the best team in Formula 3 was ASM and they had the same goal as me which was to join GP2. So together we built ART Grand Prix.” ART had the best possible birth, taking the team titles in GP2 in the first two seasons of the new championship, and sending Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton to the drivers’ championships and up to F1. So successful was ART in GP2 that the Todt/Vasseur ART business has now taken over the ASM brand in F3 to create an ART racing ladder. “There are many synergies between F3 and GP2, because if an F3 driver wins with us, it makes sense for him to stay with us for GP2, like with Lewis Hamilton, with Romain Grosjean, with Nico Hulkenberg. It’s a great company with very capable people and now we have to develop the company. We are in three championships, with F3, GP2 and GP2 Asia, and I hope we do something else next year. We are talking about GP3, so I hope we will be able to do that.” The all-new GP3 would be a logical step, but Nicolas Todt’s name has never been far away from rumours of interest in an F1 team. Linked to a buyout of Toro Rosso last season, Nicolas quickly rebuked such rumours, although he admits that with the FIA’s newest proposals for