Jean Todt was relieved and a little surprised after Michael Schumacher's win the third round of this year's Formula One World Championship at Sao Paulo, Brazil. The new F2002 had done all that was required of it, said the Ferrari team principal,...
Jean Todt was relieved and a little surprised after Michael Schumacher's win the third round of this year's Formula One World Championship at Sao Paulo, Brazil. The new F2002 had done all that was required of it, said the Ferrari team principal, but it certainly wasn't a result that was expected. "I think it was very difficult to win yesterday, particularly given what we'd seen of our rivals' performance. Their package seemed more consistent than ours. And it didn't work out like that. In the end it worked in our favour."
"I thought we were going to be competitive but I thought the others would be very competitive. I thought that they were favourites. But having said that, I knew we had an opportunity and that has been shown yesterday."
"But it's a world where people react with too much emotion. Saturday we were a tenth from pole having been on pole twice and people were saying that a miracle had happened. I leave with them their emotion. What is important is that we have our way of working, our standard of working, we react the right way and all the rest is nothing. It's a result of work. But still, when you know the others are strong, it's a good surprise."
Typically, Todt paid tribute to his driver. "Michael managed to drive an exceptional race, without ever bowing to the very strong pressure which he had throughout the race. In the first part of the race, he had to pull out a fairly large advantage and afterwards he was pushed very hard by his brother. It was hard to push hard and keep the car on the track."
Todt said that it was a relief that his decision to bring the new F2002 had been vindicated. "I knew that we needed to reach a certain level of reliability before deciding to come here with the new car, so I was quite relieved when I saw what we were able to do in testing at Barcelona, because if we hadn't been able to do what we did, then we would not have decided to bring the new car, and definitely we knew that the new car had the better potential."
"But yesterday you saw that Rubens, even starting from eighth position, would have finished third, so it's a question of the overall package and today, our package was probably better than we could expect before the beginning of the race."
Todt admitted that it hadn't been a massive effort to bring the new car was well as last year's cars. "We just had to bring some extra people to do the extra jobs but it went quite smoothly, the guys were able to finish work quite early in the evenings so it was not so difficult."
Once again, there was an incident on the first lap, and as in two weeks ago in Malaysia, it involved Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya. Did it worry Todt that this rivalry could be getting out of hand?
"It has always been like that. I think Michael has been remarkable. He's not getting into any games. He's a fighter, he defended his position in a very nice, a very talented way. I think it has always been like that."
Meanwhile, the Ferrari team return to Italy to prepare F2002s for both Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello for their next race at what is virtually their home Grand Prix at Imola. And of course, the work continues with testing at Fiorano and Mugello starting on Tuesday going through to Saturday.
In the meantime, Todt reflects on the importance of this win. "It's good because it allows Michael to take some advantage for the lead of the championship. In the manufacturers' series, we are six points behind so I don't want to say we are equal but we are in a position to fight, so that in that respect, this was an important result."