Jean Todt was typically sanguine after Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix. The Ferrari team principal had seen his drivers finish second (Rubens Barrichello) and sixth (Michael Schumacher). Following Michael's fourth place in the Australian Grand Prix,...
Jean Todt was typically sanguine after Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix. The Ferrari team principal had seen his drivers finish second (Rubens Barrichello) and sixth (Michael Schumacher). Following Michael's fourth place in the Australian Grand Prix, and the two drivers' total of 16 points for the Scuderia -- ten behind rivals McLaren -- Todt was still in a mood to be positive.
There were several plus points, said Todt, in spite of the second win by McLaren, and the team principal paid compliment to his rivals. The hybrid MP4-17 had improved a lot, he said, but it hadn't caught up to the level of Ferrari yet, as proved by Coulthard's retirement. It was thanks to shrewd strategy, the right tyres and some mistakes by Ferrari that they had won the first two races.
"Sure, they are stronger than they were last season," said Todt, "and we have seen that they have developed their old car and - as we saw in Australia and Sepang -- they have made a good job. But we also have improved our F2002 car. On Friday in Sepang, Schumacher established a new record, decimating the pole position times he has set over last the two years."
The problem, said Todt, has simply been circumstances at both races, the rain and pace cars in Australia, and the first lap accident at Sepang. "Michael lost his race at the start, being involved in an incident, having to stop at the pits to change his wing, then getting a penalty so losing his chances of winning. We had to change our strategy. And if I am to be totally honest, I did not think that Michael, after everything that happened to him, would succeed in scoring three points. As for Rubens, he was held up by the problems at the first corner, he had to take avoiding action to miss other cars, and he was never in a position to challenge for the lead."
But Todt wasn't about to say that the team's first two races were adversely or positively affected by the new regulations. "It's hard to say," commented the team principal. "The first time that we ran to the new regulations we had two cars on the front row but then had weather problems. This time it was a bit different, even though we were running to the new regulations, we had different problems."
The team, said Todt, would once again be concentrating on developing the new F2003-GA. "We are running the F2003-GA, which we know is more competitive than the current car, at Barcelona this week," he said, adding that all four Ferrari drivers would be on hand to test the car: regular race drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, and test drivers Luca Badoer and Felipe Massa. The intention, emphasised Todt once again, was for the new car to make its debut at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, the fourth round of this year's World Championship.