N icolas Todt founded All Road Management (ARM) in 2003 to promote the rise of young talent to the top of motorsport. ARM offers its drivers the best conditions to progress in the long term thanks to its expertise and its contacts. The experience of Nicolas Todt and his team enables ARM to provide a complete range of services ranging from sports management to advice on motor sport, communication, sponsorship, advertising and event organisation.

ARM’s field of activity also covers physical and mental preparation through partnerships with the best specialised centres in Europe. The implementation of personalised coaching is also part of ARM’s competence, which is based on an ultra-qualified staff. The drivers are therefore fully able to devote themselves to their main objective, racing.

ARM is present at all levels of motorsport, from karting to F1 through the different single-seater formulas, GT, Endurance and also new categories such as Formula E

Nicolas Todt,

the founder of All Road Management, talks to us about the evolving role of the driver manager

When Felipe Massa first asked you to help manage his career, what did you think you would do for him, what did you think was the role of a manager and how has that changed and evolved over the years?

Nicolas Todt : You can succeed as a racing driver without a manager, a term which can actually mean a lot of things, a manager, an adviser or a consultant. However, I think it is very important for a young driver to be supported, because motor racing is a very complicated environment and therefore knowing how to navigate through choppy seas is never straightforward. Furthermore, unlike other sports, motor racing, and Formula 1 in particular is very competitive, because you have just 20 drivers on the grid. In football, there are not so many star players, but if you have a bad season that doesn’t mean you have to leave the top level. You can move from one top team to a lesser one.

But in Formula 1, once you make a mistake, you are out and to come back from that is pretty much impossible. There is such a chasm from Formula 1 to the other categories that to leave it is to take a colossal drop.

I’m not saying that having an agent is a cure-all, because at the end of the day, it’s the driver who gets the job done. If he gets good results, he will get himself noticed. Back in the day, motor sport was cheaper, whereas today it is very expensive and even if efforts have been made to keep costs in check, they have not been reduced. A very good driver could find sufficient funds by putting his own money in, finding sponsors and getting as far as GP2 or Formula 3000 back in the day and getting noticed by an F1 team. But today, that’s more or less impossible. Therefore what is needed is to get into a young driver programme like the ones run by some of the Formula 1 top teams.

So it’s important that there’s someone who can “sell” a driver to one of these programmes or to an F1 team directly. My aim and what differentiates the way All Road Management operates, compared to others is that we ourselves invest in drivers. Today, many managers have never invested a single Euro.

If we find a talented driver who does not have sponsorship or other means of support, we will do our best to finance him through the junior formulae. What better way to prove that you believe in your driver than to invest your own money…! From that point on, when the costs start to rise, the next step is that we will approach a manufacturer team and lobby on behalf of the driver explaining why it is worth their while investing in his future.

Today, to get a driver into Formula 1, you really need to get him tied up with a team, especially as testing opportunities in this category are so rare. That way, a driver can do the occasional Friday morning practice session at a Grand Prix or the young driver test and thus there is an opportunity to show what you can do. Of course, a driver’s track record is very important and winning in GP3, F3 and F2 is the starting point, but you also need to show you can drive a Formula 1 car. This is where All Road Management is well placed to help a driver move forward. We have a network in Formula 1, as I am in the paddock for around half  my time and I am in regular contact with the decision makers of this very small circus that is F1. But it’s not because you know someone that your driver will get the drive, because this is a business world. What we can do is maximise a driver’s chances of making it.

The main task therefore of All Road Management is to let the driver drive and not have to worry about everything else involved?

Yes, so the driver concentrates on the races and we advise him how to behave at the race track and away from it, how to deal with the media and sponsors and so forth and ensure he is 100% ready physically and mentally. We cannot affect how much talent a driver has, but we can influence his behaviour and attitude.

In the past the driver manager was a one-man band, but All Road Management is more than just you.

We have a team of people who work with our drivers and on top of that we work with several outside agencies who are experts in their field. For example, All Road Management doesn’t employ its own trainers, but we work with Formula Medicine that specialises in preparing the drivers and we also outsource other specialist skills such as media coaching, while handling all legal matters and sponsor and team negotiations in-house.

While all young karters dream of F1, it’s not the only viable career path in motorsport and you have drivers in various categories.

Our main aim is to bring drivers to Formula 1, however, motor sport has many categories and some, like WEC, WTCC, DTM and Formula E present excellent opportunities for professional racing drivers. We aim to maximise the opportunities for our drivers, whatever formula they race in. The role of a management company is to orientate the driver. In the end, it is the driver’s choice as to where he races and it is our job to provide the best possible advice so that their decision is as well informed as possible.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your work? 

Taking an unknown driver and making him a star, which means we made the right choices. It is very gratifying to find a driver and to spend years with him going through the highs and lows of a career and to one day see him make it to the very top step of the podium in the top form of motorsport. However, you can take nothing for granted in motor sport.

English
X