Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's Jean Todt called Michael Schumacher's second place in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix "encouraging" after the former World Champion came home less than 0.2s behind reigning World Champion Fernando Alonso, but over 18s ahead...
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's Jean Todt called Michael Schumacher's second place in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix "encouraging" after the former World Champion came home less than 0.2s behind reigning World Champion Fernando Alonso, but over 18s ahead of the rest of the field.
"Of course, it was important to see where we would be in this championship and it seems we are part of the competitive teams. Bridgestone did a good job but still we must work hard to go where we want to go, but as I said, encouraging," added Todt.
But he did suggest that Michael might even have won, but for losing one lap's fuel allowance (2.75 kilos) after his lap time dropped below the designated 110 per cent in the final part of qualifying. Had that been vital, Todt was asked? "I hate making predictions but he definitely would have been able to do one more lap and when you see that he was level with Alonso after the second pit stop, he would have been three tenths ahead and three-tenths would have meant being a few car's lengths ahead"
Michael's performance, he said, was typical Michael and what one had come to expect from him. "It was equal to what Michael is doing. Michael is Michael so today he did a good race, but as he normally does. He had a good car, good tyres and a good package."
The team's new driver, Felipe Massa, had also performed well, said Todt. "He did the same time as Michael in qualifying and during the race he lost it by following Alonso. Then we made him lose about 50 seconds (due to a problem with airguns in the pit stop) and if you see each lap time after that he was on the same level as the leaders, so definitely it is very encouraging."
What did Todt think of the other potentially rival teams: McLaren, Renault etc? Interestingly, Todt immediately singled out two others that hadn't been mentioned and weren't on the podium. "I think Honda was very strong, it seems that Williams was quite strong too, and if you see the quickest time it was set by Rosberg during the race and you see Webber did a very good lap time too. I did not analyse it completely, they may not be at the same level but they are strong."
And he reinforced Schumacher's view that it will be the pace of development that will decide the World Championship at the end of the year. "If today we see that some teams are quite equal, what will make the difference is the development that people can deliver. It started a few weeks ago, we have the wind tunnel, engine test bed, so things are moving."
It was put to Todt that some teams are already upset by the amount of deflection in the Ferrari's rear wing. "It demonstrates that we are back at the top again. It is good news when people start to be interested in Ferrari again. I am not aware of a problem. If the FIA comes to us and says there is a problem then our technical director Ross Brawn will come to me but the FIA has no problem."
Summing up, and looking ahead to next weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, Todt said "we saw some evidence that we have a good car and a good package but you like to confirm that over a race weekend, so this was the first confirmation but we must not take things for granted."
"We may have a very tough weekend next week with a high temperature, and the second race for the new 2.4 litre V8 engines so we must not feel that it is not going to be tough, but it is going to be tough for everybody. However I think we have quite a good package, the team did a very good job and Bridgestone did a very good job so we are in the right direction."