Ferrari team principal Jean Todt admitted to a sense of relief after Michael Schumacher drove a champion's race to win the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sunday, a victory which nearly clinched the World Drivers' championship for the German for...
Ferrari team principal Jean Todt admitted to a sense of relief after Michael Schumacher drove a champion's race to win the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sunday, a victory which nearly clinched the World Drivers' championship for the German for a record-breaking sixth time.
"It's been a long and anxious wait," said Todt. "It's been combined with great passion to try and score the result that we did today (Sunday). And when you have achieved that for the second time, as we have this year after Monza which was also a very important race for us, it is obvious that we can now look forward with optimism."
Todt said that the conditions played into Ferrari's hands -- but that hasn't always been the case. "There was a shower that was advantageous, but we have had showers which haven't been as in Brazil where we could have taken a one-two but which turned out to be the only race where we haven't scored a point. Today it's true that we hoped to have these kind of conditions and finally it happened."
But it was the change to cooler conditions and the wet weather which really made the difference, playing into the hands of the Bridgestone runners. "We have not been better than usual today. We have maintained the same standard. On Friday morning we were already much quicker than the others. Do you thing it is by chance that we see the sort of classification which we saw today, where you have Sauber scoring ten points? They haven't become geniuses. Simply the package was better. You saw Button; he was leading the race for a while. We were hoping we would get these conditions here."
Indeed, Ferrari have been preparing for these conditions, perhaps at the expense of races in hotter weather. "We know that in certain conditions this year we have not been very good when it was very hot, and we know it will not be as hot as it was in summer. We were going into the testing ban so we could not do a lot of tyre development, which we did immediately when we started to do some testing at Monza. We are alone in doing all the (Bridgestone) tyre testing compared to the other teams, which can share all the (Michelin) testing."
Todt also pointed out that the new points scoring system hasn't been favourable to Michael Schumacher and Ferrari this year. "Ferrari have won seven Grands Prix and if you compare that number of wins with the team with whom we are fighting at the moment, in the Constructors' series, they have won four Grands Prix. Similarly, Michael has won six Grands Prix and the driver who could still mathematically win the championship, Raikkonen, has won just one."
But there's no relaxation as they head to Japan for the final round of the series. "Michael needs only one point but Ferrari needs 15 points," Todt pointed out. "Mathematically, things are still possible. There's still one race to go. Both championships are important. I think we know that if we want to secure the Drivers' championship we need to be in front so we will try to be in front and the other teams will try to be in front of us. But let's say we will not have a strategic approach, we will just try to do the best race we can."
Todt knows that the pressure is still on, and explains that "today we had good racing but tomorrow we have to work again. On Tuesday we start testing. We will test mainly in Mugello with Luca Badoer and Felipe Massa, and then on Thursday and Friday Michael will join Badoer in Mugello." So the pressure continues right up to the chequered flag in Suzuka...