Ferrari's team principal Jean Todt drew encouragement from his team's performance in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, after Rubens Barrichello finished second in spite of starting 11th on the grid. The Brazilian was sandwiched by the Renaults of ...
Ferrari's team principal Jean Todt drew encouragement from his team's performance in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, after Rubens Barrichello finished second in spite of starting 11th on the grid. The Brazilian was sandwiched by the Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso, but teammate Michael Schumacher was one of the three drivers who failed to finish. He suffered from Saturday's changeable weather conditions during the first qualifying session, and tangled with compatriot Nick Heidfeld during the race.
Todt was philosophical about both his drivers' performances. "It could have been worse. I think Rubens got the most out of the situation. He was competitive, but we need to be more competitive. That is offset by the fact that Michael was unable to score one or two points because of his accident, but that's part of racing and you have to accept it."
"On the positive side, we were nevertheless competitive, in spite of the car being an evolution of last year's car. The 2005 car is still being developed prior to racing it. We have a few things to improve with Bridgestone but nevertheless, in terms of wear and consistency (one set now has to last throughout qualifying and the race) our tyres were good. They wore well, it was very interesting. Ours were perhaps too hard, we could have perhaps gone for softer tyres but that's a good sign for the races to come."
Asked if he felt pressed to introduce the 2005 car sooner than its projected debut at round five of the championship, Todt said "No. We know that we are not yet at the standard that we want with the new car so we will keep testing and developing it until we feel we are in a position to introduce it. There's one engine for two race weekends, so we still have one race weekend to try to do."
That was one aspect of the new regulations. Another was the new qualifying system, which saw the Ferraris start 11th and 19th. "We knew that we had good performance with the car, so we are only disappointed with our starting position on the grid. But that's fate, there's nothing we can do about it."
"It's certainly true that the conditions were different, in comparison to the norm. The aim was to make things less certain with this kind of qualifying and that's been achieved. People wanted to give more of a show on Sunday. I don't think it will make a huge difference. I didn't like this qualifying at all: to have one car 11th and the other 19th is not something I like. I always said that I preferred the kind of qualifying in the past where you had one hour, 12 laps and then the quickest time was taken. That's what I preferred, but everybody was against that so..."
And what conclusions could Todt draw from this Grand Prix? "It's difficult. There is a very competitive Renault team with Fisichella who drove a very good race to win. He did a great job to get pole. He was in the right situation and he exploited it well. But we know the guy is a strong driver. He demonstrated that. You need to have the right combination, however. You need to have the tyres, the car, the team. If you manage everything well then you are competitive. He's one of the drivers who one can imagine winning a races."
"Then there is Red Bull Racing, for instance, which was astonishingly competitive. However, having said that, it's a bit premature to reach final conclusions because I'm sure that there are other teams which will become competitive during the upcoming races. But it does look as though the championship will be very open and that should be welcomed by all spectators who enjoy Formula One and for the championship. But I hope for us it is not more lively and difficult than today, eh? I hope we can have better races in the future."