Temperatures, it was all about tyre temperatures, Ferrari's Jean Todt emphasised after Sunday's incident-filled Australian Grand Prix. Neither of his cars finished, both being eliminated in violent accidents but it was the fact that they had ...
Temperatures, it was all about tyre temperatures, Ferrari's Jean Todt emphasised after Sunday's incident-filled Australian Grand Prix. Neither of his cars finished, both being eliminated in violent accidents but it was the fact that they had only marginally proved to be competitive that irked the team principal.
"It was just the tyre temperatures after the (four) safety car interventions," explained Todt. "We didn't have enough temperature. With this kind of tyre, we need to have much more temperature. We lose grip. Without temperature we don't have grip, we don't have the right pressure."
To some extent, Ferrari were duped by the weather. Having finished third in last year's World Championship, Ferrari are not allowed the luxury of a third driver to do its tyre testing on the Fridays of Grands Prix.
The idea, therefore, is to do minimal running on Friday, thus conserving the engine and to do the majority of tyre testing on the Saturday. However, when Saturday turned out to be wet in Melbourne, they were unable to test new specification Bridgestone tyres.
"More running on Friday would definitely have helped," explained Todt. "We only used one specification of tyre on Friday, thinking we would do the job (of testing the other specification) when the track would have been less green on Saturday. Unfortunately, we couldn't do it. You always learn."
Asked if he thought it was too great a risk to use a tyre that the team had not run before, Todt said "yeah. We were not expecting such cool temperatures and we definitely didn't have enough information to make a good comparison."
Felipe Massa was eliminated in an incident on the first lap, but Michael Schumacher completed 32 laps before his accident. "When everything is working together, we have good potential. Unfortunately we couldn't express it properly. We kind of did in the first race (this year), not in the second one and even less in the third one."
Some might say that the problem sounds very similar to those suffered by Ferrari last year. "In a way," admitted Todt. "I would say that we had this problem several times last year and our major problem was warming up the tyres. Saying that, we had another specification of tyres available today which was used by our competitors using Bridgestone tyres, and they definitely had a better warm-up. So it was up to us.
"But it was definitely important to see our competitors using similar tyres we will get very interesting information. You saw (Mark) Webber and he wasn't on light tanks, what he was able to do during his running. Same thing with Ralf (Schumacher).
"Same with Michael when he had some temperature. He had the right temperatures after refuelling, with a lot of fuel in. I think we will have quite a lot of good information to study. Bridgestone have definitely done a good job, on construction as well."
Once again, Todt paid tribute to the fact that five teams are now running on Bridgestone tyres. "It definitely gives us more input which we were missing last year. Last year, in the same situation, we would have even less clear ideas. At least we know that our competitors, with different specification tyres, we know what they can do."
Todt refused to criticise Ferrari's new driver Felipe Massa, who crashed in qualifying and also in the race. "He had a tough job during qualifying. Unfortunately he lost the car in the last part (of the circuit). I would say that in the first part, if he wanted to be, he was very quick. (In the race) he could not defend his chances. But Felipe is a very talented driver, very good driver and I'm sure time will allow people to understand that."
Looking forward to the next round of the championship on Ferrari's home ground at Imola, Todt said "we have a good package, but we have to demonstrate it. I think that we can be competitive. How competitive is difficult to know. It all depends what the others will do. We will have a good upgrade but we will not be the only ones and I hope we manage to put everything together."