Todt & Saillant: le dénouement part 1

I wanted to finish up once and for all, and relate the “dénouement” of the Saillant-gate affair. Here’s a link to my post immediately after finding out Saillant had paid a severely ill-intentioned visit to my boss here at the hospital:

An open letter to Gérard Saillant (oh yeah Jean Todt too)

My boss, who is also the Dean of the Medical Faculty, asked Saillant (the president of the FIA Medical Commission and of the FIA Institute) two questions: 1) does Gary speak in the name of the hospital? 2) does Gary reveal information that is obtained illegally or that represents a violation of doctor-patient confidentiality? Because the answer to both is, of course, no, Saillant was sent packing. The next day, my boss gave me the “dossier” that the FIA had painstakingly put together detailing all the reasons I should be fired. We will look at this together in a subesequent post.

My attorneys informed me that because Todt and Saillant’s underhanded, slimy and reprehensible act caused no actual damages to me, legal recourse would be moot. I therefore decided to request that the FIA convene their ethics committee to enquire about this affair. I therefore addressed the following registered letter (click it to enlarge) to Todt just before Christmas 2014:


I was, of course, under no illusion as to the outcome of this request.

We will dissect the FIA’s response in my next post. It is highly instructive, and provides fascinating insight into just how perverse these guys’ concept of governance is. And just how oblivious to any normal standards of behavior they are.

More importantly for now is for me to highlight the fact that within days, Todt and Saillant viciously attacked Philippe Streiff. This, the same Philippe Streiff who idolized Saillant as his savior (I will omit details of his case that would rather call this into question!), and who entertained extremely close relations with him for almost 30 years. Philippe, a staunch defender of Todt and Saillant, was unceremoniously thrown under the bus, like an old newspaper. He was humiliated into publicly backing down and apologising (the fact is celebrated in the twitter feed of Xavier Malenfer, Todt’s chief of staff!), under threats of legal action based on some imagined “calomny” (their threat of a legal case, naught but an odious scare tactic, would have been thrown out perfunctorily – there was neither libel nor slander). And for what?

For an interview that was hardly seen by anyone, but was widely quoted. For saying what needs to be said: that the FIA has not been open about their “inquiry” into the circumstances surrounding the Jules Bianchi accident.

I believe that both Philippe Streiff and myself drew the gangster-like wrath of these two critters BECAUSE THEY ARE PANICKED. It is my firm belief (and their actions certainly don’t belie this!) that they are SO legally vulnerable for the management of the Bianchi accident that they probably fear not just for their cushy posts at the FIA, but for their freedom and fortunes. If Mr. and Mrs. Bianchi decided to hire lawyers and to demand clarity, I am relatively certain that the fact that Piette deliberately ignored HIS OWN REGULATIONS (as concerns evac, among other problems) would be ruled legally as contributing significantly to his current state.

Let me make things as clear as they can be. I worked with Jean-Charles Piette, the current F1 Medical Delegate from 2008 to 2012. During this entire period he was OBSESSED with the rules governing helicopters at F1 events. Remember, this is the man responsible legally for the medical/rescue services at F1 races. It was he who held up the GP2 race at Spa in 2012 until the helicopter returned from evacuating a previous casualty . . . for well over an hour. And yet, inexplicably, despite weather conditions that were known to preclude landing with a victim at the designated receiving hospital, he let the race proceed. And then, he allowed a profoundly comatose driver to be ground evac’d (40 minutes vs 20!!!!).

I’ll post and analyse Todt’s reply (actually written by his hatchet man Malenfer) to my ethics request later, and look briefly at the absurd “dossier” they compiled. Then we’ll be done with this. And I, hopefully, will never have to mention either of these . . . people . . . again.

34 thoughts on “Todt & Saillant: le dénouement part 1

  1. Dear Doctor,
    I was shocked (but not surprised) when you first wrote about the Saillant (i don’t want to call it a Doctor) visit to your boss and I am now pleased to see that there are still some good guys out there (your boss must be Belgian 🙂 ) and that justice will be given to you.
    I’m not clear on the possible next steps, however: do you intend sue Todt & Co, is there any chance that they find themselves in trouble. Someone, somewhere, somehow should be able to achieve that.

  2. Good for you standing up against the amateurish bullying tactics of FIA. Shameful conduct by the organization and can’t expect you were holding your breath waiting for the ethics committee to do the right thing …

    Keep up the good work, Doc!

  3. Gary,
    It’s kind of charming that you are still looking for some rationality in the MaFIA’s behavior. It isn’t going to happen because this isn’t about business. With them it’s personal. They’ve been pricked (as it were) and it’s stung and they aren’t used to it. Todt’s response has been to throw a hissy fit, meaning that sometime over the past months he has clenched his little fists and stamped his feet. That’s what it looks like. Sometimes followed by holding your breath until you turn blue, and sometimes screaming to blue blazes. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Todt is a spent force and will be replaced by another crony. I mean toady. I mean . . oh, well. Still doesn’t matter.

  4. Dear Doc:

    Brilliant! I thought when you talked about the FIA ethics committee you were shooting for some comic relief, but I now understand that you were serious, and there is such a beast. Personally, I think this beast is mythical, like a unicorn. I am happy for your moral victory, (and the fact that you unintentionally made me smile). In Quebec we have a saying. Lache pas la patate! (loosely translated “hang in there”)

  5. Dr. H. Thanks for the update. I am sure I was not the only one waiting for more comment from you on this truly sordid affair.
    The question which has bothered me from the outset of your revelations is what would Todt et al gain from having you fired? Personal satisfaction for harming you? Would they have publicized your termination? And, if so, to what end? Follow the money is usually the question to be answered in many circumstances, but in this one, where is the money? Besides your income, or lack thereof, that is, of course.
    Any ideas other than what you have already shared with us?
    Bizarre, totally.
    Best always.

  6. Some people tend to think that they can do whatever they please without any consequences, just because they are powerful. Being a long time motorhead (about 4 decades) I held Mr Todt in high consideration. I’m still very shocked at all this. It is unbelievable!! I’m led to think that Mr Todt has banged his head hard against something very solid (yes, pun intended ….)

  7. Pingback: Former F1 Doc attacks Todt and Sallient as ‘slimy’ and ‘underhand’ | thejudge13

  8. All of the behavior of those running the FIA would have to be much more in line with what is best for the sport, if they were held accountable by a separate entity (like a drivers union or similar). People in powerful positions tend to run over people they don’t like when there are no consciences. The sports writers for F1 have all been beaten into line, so the only ones that can help with this is those who could care less if their access is cut off. Politics has always been about having power and limiting others. The USA was born from getting away from this in Europe … and disheartening to see it returning because the free-ist people in the world seem to have chosen to be ruled again …..

    • YesYesYes! The paddock “journalists” today are no more than FOM/ FIA spokespeople. Afraid to upset their masters. Not a single hard question asked about Bianchi. The latest cluster f**k that is sauber proves how very few are prepared to say anything negative about the team / sport and how it is run.

  9. Gary – May I disagree, just slightly, with your take on Phillipe Streiff.
    Great guy and all that BUT he twice said things about Michael Schumacher (outside the Grenoble hospital from his car and once on TF3) and once said things about Jules Bianchi (TF3 interview again) which were, without putting too fine a point on it, simply out of order.
    They were untrue and his own take on the 2 situations and about which it turns out he had no specific knowledge whatsoever.
    There seems a contradiction in our views on who says what in all this.
    We are up in arms when the press say things about either driver’s condition which is drivel …. but then most of the press quoted Streiff pretty accurately …. but it turns out to be more drivel … but because it is Streiff we are asked to take a more benevolent view.
    We can’t have it both ways. Was it not right to censure Streiff for what he said because it was simply inaccurate?
    I personally I feel it was, whoever he is.
    Send the barbs flying ….!

  10. Haha you’re much more likely to get a response from FIA than me, but I can imagine it won’t have much to do with ethics. Anyway, official time to hospital 32 minutes according to Piette. Wrote an article over at TJ13 about it yesterday that just got posted.

  11. Nobody wins other than the lawyers.

    Still, no reason to let that stop you from exposing their behaviour to you and Streiff and highlighting how they let the drivers down that day in Japan.
    Power to the Doc !

  12. I’m pleased to see this, very pleased.

    I’ve recently been thinking of Philippe Streiff and yourself, and the surprising viciousness to which you were both subjected.

    Philippe seems like one of the good guys. He has given back to the sport by promoting karting and other things, and has been concerned about talented French drivers.

    Thank you very much for sharing this.

  13. Thank you for this Gary, please stick to it and keep us informed. It is inspiring to see someone so forthright and open as yourself, who states the truth regardless of your personal consequences, when it would be so easy to keep your head down and give in. You stand as an example to us all, I’m going to try to be more like this myself at work.

  14. I know it’s not easy to share these delicate things but you’ve all my respect because there are times we have to stand up and try to make this world a better place. 🙂

  15. Great post,
    The actions of those involved at the helm of the FIA definitely need exposing. It would be nice if any of the mainstream motorsport media had the balls to run this story. When these two are done with tge FIA they will likely get a PR in North Korea.

  16. Dear Gary,

    I visit your blog quite often because I find your posts very interesting and illustrating, though I have never commented on them until now. I just want to say that I appreciate your courage to deal with this matter in an open manner. When I first read about the visit of Saillant to the dean of your hospital I was uneased and preoccupied. Now I’m preoccupied with the lack of transparency of the FIA, but more than this I’m glad that someone dares to give some light on the matter.

    Thank you and sorry for my English

  17. It seems unbelievable in this day and age with the freedom of information that these two ever thought they would get away with this.

    Will the Japanese authorities not investigate at all?

  18. Way to go Gary! Great stuff. Now that van der Garde is sticking it to Sauber for the gross misconduct, and you taking the it back to Todt, maybe some people in F1 start smelling the cordite. Thanks for not rolling over.

      • Very dear Doctor Hartstein when they all ( read FIA Jean Todt and cies ) blocked the possibilities for us ( fans of Michael Schumacher and Jules Bianchi ) You stood strong to give us your diagnostic based upon what you know in your medicine to let us know some news they were hiding to us for what exactly ??? Are they afraid to be sued because they made mistakes ??? They surely are to be blamed somewhere I always thought that and I will never changed my minds . Sir I will always be on your side, the side of TRANSPARENCY . In reading everything in that dossier I arrived to the conclusion that they have a lot to hide to keep their mouth shut and even their parents and relatives I name her Corinna and the parents of Bianchi’s they all should be aware that we love Schumacher and Bianchi and are anxious to never having news and because of you we had some news maybe not exact cause you weren’t allow to go there to see it yourself but at least we had some news somewhere . ii wrote a book about the first carrier of Michael in French my native tongue and I translated it via Google .This is clear that I am profoundly hurt about what happened to Michael that I considered MY KING and you sweet Gary were the only one because of whom we got some news and I will always be by your side ! Friendly yours forever much love to you and stay strong …

  19. Gary, you have morality and justice on your side. I was very pleased to see today that the Bianchis are considering hiring a lawyer. I consider they have a pretty strong case again Jean-Charles Piette and I hate the way they treated Philippe Streiff. It reminds me of the time I witnessed for my ex-manager. They are just bullies and thugs.
    Jules Bianchi’s father has not ruled out taking action against those responsible for the crash at Suzuka five months ago that left his son in a coma.
    Beyond that, he hinted that the Bianchi family has hired a lawyer and is not ready to simply draw the Suzuka chapter to a close, even though the FIA has concluded its investigation.
    “We still do not know what we will do, but certainly it was not a normal racing situation,” he said. “If there is someone who is responsible for it, he will have to pay for it, without question.”

  20. This is so interesting because the core of any business dispute is to not make it personal. Stick to the facts, don’t extrapolate, embellish. Don’t lie because you’ll be found out and lose whatever value you brought to the table. (The fun part is watching the other side writhe in discomfort, look at their watches, and suggest a break for lunch.)

  21. Wow…great post Gary! Congratulations to you and especially to your boss for asking the right questions and fending off a rather unsavoury visit from a couple of guys who really have nothing better to do with their “busy” work schedule than pick on folk who exercise the right to free speech. You could probably buy a decent sized family house in London with the FIA money they wasted trying to destroy you!

  22. Hi Doc
    Thanks for putting all this into the public domain. I really felt for you when you first revealed the pressure put on your Dean to remove you from your position, and then also for Streiff, who, as you say, idolized Saillant for saving his life.
    I look forward to reading the response from the FIA and also the dossier they compiled.
    If you have no objections, I would like to turn this situation into a case study that I can use to teach either in my Public Relations class, or the one on Media and Ethics…
    Again, thanks for posting…

  23. Doc, I realise you aren’t publishing these letters for the praise or publicity – but can I congratulate you on being humble and aware enough to make public the lengths certain individuals will go to in order to protect their own jobs and livelihoods over the safety of drivers.

    Thank you.

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