Jean Todt intimated that finally Ferrari had shown their speed after Michael Schumacher's narrow victory over Fernando Alonso in Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. But the Ferrari team principal refused to allow himself to be drawn on the ...
Jean Todt intimated that finally Ferrari had shown their speed after Michael Schumacher's narrow victory over Fernando Alonso in Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. But the Ferrari team principal refused to allow himself to be drawn on the effect the victory might have on his star driver's decision regarding his future, to be made later this year.
Todt said that confirmation that Ferrari had a good car came at the first Grand Prix in Bahrain, even though Renault won that race and the two since. "In Bahrain we could confirm that we had a good car, that Bridgestone did an excellent job over the winter.
"But for several reasons, which have already been raised several times, since then we did not get the best out of the package that we had. We had some reliability problems with the engine, which penalised us a lot in the second race. In the third race we made a mistake in choosing the tyres. It makes me smile because here at Imola we had too high temperatures for the choice of tyre that we made. And in Australia we had two hard tyres for the temperature we had.
"It is difficult when you play with the weather forecast, you don't always make the right choice. Saying that, we managed today and even if we thought the temperatures would be cooler we still managed to have Michael winning the race and Felipe (Massa) securing the fourth position."
But Imola would not be just a one-off like last year when Schumacher followed Alonso home, said Todt. "In Bahrain we were not very competitive last year and we were very competitive this year. Each race is different. Last year we were competitive in Imola, the weather conditions were different. If you remember Alonso won the race and he had no more tyres. The tyre rules were completely different so we are talking about two different things. Time will tell. Some probably think that was our race, Imola, some others don't."
However, in spite of the eventual outcome, his winning driver still didn't have it all his own way. In the first stint, Michael was able to lap in 1m 24.5s, but in the second he was three seconds a lap slower. "He drove a strategic race to fight Alonso, because of the temperatures and the fact that he was suffering a little bit with the tyres he had which were a bit too soft for the conditions."
Jean Todt admitted that he feared that they could lose the race in the second stint. However, he found it "pleasing" when Renault called Alonso in early. Ferrari made "a strategy correction" as a consequence, and brought Michael in on the next lap which secured him the lead.
Todt had some understanding of Renault's position. "When you have a lot of pressure like they had and we had, you tend to make certain decisions and sometimes it is a good decision, and sometimes it is not a good decision. If Renault would have decided to stop later, it doesn't mean it would have worked. Michael may have decided to increase his speed if necessary to fight for the win, so I don't think we can say that they lost because we put them in a situation to make that choice."
Todt went on to say that this was an important victory for the atmosphere within Ferrari "Everybody has been putting in so much effort, they have been working so hard and what is the best reward? To win a race."
Asked if he thought Ferrari winning races again might encourage Schumacher to stay with the team, Todt replied "you ask me the question as if I have to react as if Michael has already decided to stop. I was saying, and I have mentioned this very often, you are asking people to react to what has happened half an hour ago. Michael is trying to analyse the situation in a much deeper way. But one thing is sure: Michael likes to win, Michael likes to have the winning car and he knew at the beginning of the year that it is more like that this year than it was last year. Michael is bright enough to know that he cannot pretend that for 10 years he will have a car that can win every single race."
Todt also predicted a very tight championship this year - despite Renault's record of three wins out of four so far. "It depends so much on the car not the driver. There are some other potential World Champions - if they get the proper package. They will be hard fighters and what is sure is that there are a few teams, a few cars and a few drivers and the tyres are very close this year. The tyre manufacturers this year are very close to each other."