The top job at Ferrari is "the eye of the storm", the fabled Italian team's former boss Jean Todt has admitted.
Frenchman Todt, 65, is now the low-profile president of F1's governing body, succeeded at Ferrari a few years ago by Stefano Domenicali.
Ferrari - the sport's most famous team and a symbol of Italian national pride - intends to bounce back in 2012 to win its first drivers' title since Kimi Raikkonen's four years ago.
"Stefano's role is the eye of the storm," Todt, referring to the immense pressure of leading Ferrari, told Corriere della Sera newspaper on Wednesday.
"I was also constantly the subject of criticism and I'm proud that in the end I made the decision about how I should retire after all the risks that I would be fired."
He gives the example of 2011, with Ferrari insisting it now needs to take an aggressive new approach to next season.
"It was claimed that they did not have a competitive car but I don't agree," said Todt. "The Ferrari was not as good as the Red Bull but in any case it was still a good car."
He also commented on Felipe Massa, the Brazilian driver signed by Todt to be Michael Schumacher's teammate in 2006.
Massa, managed by Todt's son Nicolas, has one year left on his current contract and is under huge pressure to keep his seat for 2013.
Felipe was unable to adapt completely to the new Pirelli tyres
"Felipe was unable to adapt completely to the new Pirelli tyres," said Jean Todt. "I think he's still a good driver who will show that again.
"(Fernando) Alonso is the point of reference not just for him (Massa) but for everyone -- and Felipe was three tenths away from him, not three seconds," he added.