It was a measure of Ferrari's re-emergence that second and fourth in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix was viewed as a disappointment, explained Jean Todt after a race in which Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro were expected to feature more ...
It was a measure of Ferrari's re-emergence that second and fourth in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix was viewed as a disappointment, explained Jean Todt after a race in which Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro were expected to feature more strongly.
"In a way, it is encouraging to be so unhappy and to create such a disappointment and a surprise to the others because we finished second and fourth," Todt elaborated. "I remember, a few weeks ago, everyone would have cried that it was a miracle. We have just finished the first third of the championship, twelve races to go, we are 19 points behind in the manufacturers, 15 in the drivers, so many things can still happen and we are in a position to fight."
But the result was quite obviously a disappointment for everyone that Ferrari had not been able to take the fight to Renault, for whom Fernando Alonso scored an immensely popular home victory. "We felt we would be stronger and the others less strong," continued Todt, "and it didn't happen, probably due to the evolution of the track, the evolution of the car package, with tyres in those circumstances.
"One week ago, (at the European Grand Prix) at the Nurburgring, with the same strategy and conditions, it went our way completely and we were expecting that it would go in the same direction (in Barcelona). The track temperature, the different compound of tyres did not allow it happen."
And there wasn't anything that Ferrari could change on the day to make it happen. "We have to nominate the tyres on Wednesday or Thursday, I think," explained Todt.
There was no point in looking back and possibly regretting not running a lighter fuel in qualifying, which might have put Michael on pole position. "I don't think that in the end it would have changed a lot," said Todt. "Michael gained one position so maybe it would, maybe it would not. But anyway, the race is over. We have to focus on Monte Carlo now, Monte Carlo, Silverstone."
Even the fact that fourth-placed Ferrari driver Felipe Massa set the fastest race lap wasn't that significant. "It wasn't by enough, considering the overall pace of the race, mainly of the winner," said Todt. "Felipe could maybe have gained one position but he was stuck in traffic, he never had a clear track to take advantage of his pace which was not so different from Fisichella's." The Italian would eventually finish third, one place ahead of Massa.
However, the fight wasn't necessarily always going to be between Ferrari and Renault, said Todt. "Last week (at the European Grand Prix) some other competitors were much closer. I don't think you must conclude that this is the situation for each Grand Prix. It was a situation for this Grand Prix. Clearly you have two teams who are particularly strong and one was stronger than us today (Sunday)."
Once again, the subject of Michael Schumacher's future arose. The seven time World Champion had been quoted as saying that he wouldn't make a decision on his future before the end of the season, late October, but Jean Todt said he would probably announce his team's entire driver line-up around the Italian Grand Prix in September. "Together with Michael," he explained. "Everything. Big piece. One go."
There was some good news, said Todt, in that Renault had signed the new Concorde Agreement, which also meant that the major manufacturers would remain in Formula One for the foreseeable future. "Good," said Todt. "That's the good news of the weekend, good news for Formula One."