Interview: Nicolas Todt, Co-Owner of Birel ART

from CIK-FIA

Nicolas Todt founded All Road Management in 2003 to promote the rise of young talents to the peaks of motorsport.

In 2004, he teamed up with Frédéric Vasseur to create the ART Grand Prix single-seater team, specialising in F3, GP3 and GP2.

In 2011, ART Grand Prix was in Karting as a chassis manufacturer and team. After three successful years, ART Grand Prix and Birel combined their strengths to create Birel ART, a new entity destined to become a major player on the international Karting scene.

NICOLAS TODT, WHEN DID YOUR INTEREST IN KARTING ARISE?

I am very interested in Karting as I am involved in Driver management. I started with Felipe Massa about 15 years ago. I quickly understood that if I wanted to develop potential champions, I had to follow them from Karting, because that’s where everything starts.

The first driver I really managed from the start was Jules Bianchi. I then took care of Charles Leclerc, whom Jules had advised me to watch when he was only 13 years old and he was still in a kart.

WHAT PLACE DOES KARTING OCCUPY FOR YOU IN MOTOR SPORT?

The importance of Karting is fundamental in my job, because it is an indispensable school for cars. Lowering the age of the OK and OK-Junior categories is a good thing, but I think you should not leave Karting too early. Before 16 years old it is not a good thing.

The F4 Championships attract younger drivers, but it’s not necessarily positive. Remember the example of Max Verstappen cannot be followed by everyone. Admittedly the equipment plays an important role. As a searcher for young talents, I have to balance things between the qualities of a Driver and those of his mechanics. There are few examples of a World Karting Champion who have become great racing Drivers, but all the stars of F1 have done their training in Karting.

HOW DO YOU SEE TODAY’S KARTING?

I think Karting is going in the right direction at present. There are still a lot of development to be done with regard to communication and promotion. I think the new Promoter RGMMC Group agrees with this analysis. Karting is still extremely private and much progress needs to be made in this area. Access to information is now much cheaper than in the past with social networks. It must be used to facilitate access to the sport and expand its audience. On the other hand, I think that the World Karting Championship should be less focused on Europe and move more towards the whole world. For kart builders like Tony Kart, CRG and Birel ART, it’s important to open new horizons.

WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO PUT IN PLACE TO HELP MOVE FROM KARTING TO CARS?

A lot of young Karting Drivers dream of getting into cars and becoming a professional Driver, not to mention F1. Despite the large number of manufacturers in Karting, so far there is no real bridge between Karting and cars. That’s why Birel ART has set up, with the support of our partner, the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy which will allow the best karters to start free of charge in F4 with the possibility of continuing in Regional F3 etc. Caio Collet is a good example of a successful transition. He is a very good kart Driver who has not been World Champion, but who is currently doing well in French F4.

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