Melbourne, 3rd March - Ferrari's front row and eventual win in the Australian Grand Prix was hugely encouraging for team principal Jean Todt, but as ever, he was keeping his feet on the ground being a realist after the team's fourth consecutive...
Melbourne, 3rd March - Ferrari's front row and eventual win in the Australian Grand Prix was hugely encouraging for team principal Jean Todt, but as ever, he was keeping his feet on the ground being a realist after the team's fourth consecutive win in Melbourne.
Even so, he had been pleasantly surprised. "We were not expecting to win here. I don't think anybody was expecting us to win. We were expecting to be competitive. It's a win that was pretty significant because it was with the F2001 which was a car that won the previous year and even if it has been modified, it was still a very encouraging result, encouraging also when one appreciates the tyres that we were supplied by Bridgestone."
However, there were mixed emotions. "It is a mixed weekend, given that we might also have finished first or second but Rubens's weekend didn't end so well. I'm sure that it augurs well for the rest of the season."
But he paid tribute to the winner. "You know I only have superlatives for him. Michael's experience means that he can wait before doing a manoeuvre, before making a decision. He's not impulsive. He thinks very carefully, which isn't easy when you're driving at those speeds. The way the race turned out, he could easily have made mistakes: when he was with Trulli, when he was with Montoya and he never made one. It's one of his strengths."
Todt admitted that the win takes off some of the pressure to ready Ferrari's new F2002. "If we had been two seconds off the pace, we would have been in a different situation. Being as competitive as we have been so far, lets us breath a little easier. We will decide once we have finished testing it. We are going to test the car in the coming week, Tuesday to Saturday, mainly in Mugello with Luca Badoer. Then, depending on those tests, we shall decide on the rest of the programme. If we want, we can decide at the end of those tests whether to take it to Malaysia."
In spite of Barrichello's accident, Todt stood by the clerk of the course's decision not to stop the race. "It's a decision that I respect completely. At that given moment, a decision has to be made and it's always open to debate if it's the right one. But there is the choice to send out the safety car, and it's not the first time that it's been done, it's quite a regular occurrence. But if we had had a restart with a new grid, then there would be a different view of things. It's a decision I respect."
Looking at the race, however, Todt isn't that confident for the future in spite of Ferrari's pace in Australia. "It was amazing to see our position in comparison to everyone else's," he admitted. "Having said that, one mustn't draw definitive conclusions. I think that what might happen in Malaysia in two weeks time could be entirely different.
"We know how important the tyres are. The weather conditions will be completely different in Malaysia because it was quite cool here, 18 or 19 degrees and in Malaysia it will be twice as much, 40 degrees. The track is different, so I don't know how the package will be and we must appreciate the possibility that our competitors' package might be much better. It gives us more pressure, motivation to be successful and strong for the next race."