Improvement in Bridgestone's tyres, a greater understanding of how to use them effectively and a weekend where everything worked well: those were the reasons why Ferrari scored a resounding one-two in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on Sunday,...
Improvement in Bridgestone's tyres, a greater understanding of how to use them effectively and a weekend where everything worked well: those were the reasons why Ferrari scored a resounding one-two in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on Sunday, according to Ferrari team principal Jean Todt.
"Everything's improving," explained Todt. "I think we improved the car. Bridgestone did a great job on the tyres; we've probably learned better how to chose the tyres, which are the best to suit our cars. And we are not suffering as we were suffering in the past, from lack of grip for the qualifying lap.
"I think Bridgestone have made a very good step forward. Today, if you see the five or six quickest times during the race, they were all Bridgestone runners except for Raikkonen with third time, but I think the first six or seven quickest during the race were Bridgestone runners," Todt continued.
But Todt said that nothing was ever taken for granted. "Saying that, we were very nervous that something could go wrong because we knew that we had the two quickest cars on the track. That's very good, it allows us to think that we can still fight for both championships and it's what we are going to try to do for the next six races, starting from next week."
Consequently, Todt refused to see the German Grand Prix as a turning point in the championship, even if this was the third win in succession for Ferrari and Michael Schumacher over championship rivals Fernando Alonso and Renault. "For me the turning point is if it happens one day that we get in front of the others, that will be the turning point. At the moment, we are still behind.
"We still have to beat Alonso, because he's still eleven points in front of us and eleven times he's scored points. You may have a race where it doesn't work for you as well as it has since the beginning of the season, for various reasons, and immediately you may conclude that you are better. But at the moment they are better because they are in front."
Todt did concede that he had been surprised at Ferrari's performance in comparison to Renault. "At this race, yes, but this race is not a reflection of all the rest of the circuits which are going to come. It's one race and I don't know what they (Renault) did, maybe not the best choice of tyres, maybe not the best I don't know, but sure, I don't think you have to put Renault in the bin because they did not do a good race. I think you must be cautious with your judgement."
Todt emphasised how easy it is for any team to lose form. "It happened to us. You forgot? I try not to have a short memory. It happened, we screwed up a lot of times and we paid for it which I always said is normal. You screw up, you lose. You do a good result, you score points. I think that's normal."
Todt was cautious in his judgement of what effect the banning of mass dampers may have had on Renault's performance. "I don't know how much it may have had. If you put it on the car, you do so because you feel it has a performance advantage. How big an advantage? It's definitely not one second but I don't know how much it can be."
Much was said of Todt's post-race comment that his three favourite drivers were on the rostrum - his own two drivers plus Kimi Raikkonen. "It's nothing new," explained Todt. "You feel it's new because you are speculating who is going to drive, who will be announced (for next year) but if you take my comments two years ago, when I was asked: who do you prefer among the new drivers? I always said Raikkonen so if you have Schumacher, he's my hero, you have Massa, I'm very close to him, he does a good job. We've had him for five or six years with us and Kimi. There's no other message."
The subject of Michael Schumacher's possible retirement was inflamed by comments by his manager Willi Weber, who said he had told Michael to retire if he wins the championship. Todt had his own feelings. "At the moment, Michael loves driving. I think he demonstrates every weekend how good he is. Michael is a very clever guy. I really feel my encouragement to Michael is do what your heart tells you, rather than the manager, his team boss He knows that as long as he wants, he can drive a Ferrari. We are very happy, more than happy but I hope he wants to drive. Whatever he wants, I will respect that. Today: 89 wins, 70 with Ferrari, seven times World Champion. He just needs to drive if he wants to drive."
Todt once again confirmed that the team's future driver line-up would be decided after the Italian Grand Prix. And his own future? "As for the team organisation: end of the season. Let's make an appointment after the race. That's when you will get the drivers' announcement and the team organisation will be at the end of the season."