Ferrari team principal Jean Todt was full of praise for his driver, his team and the organisers of the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix after Rubens Barrichello claimed a narrow victory in Sunday's historic race on the outskirts of Shanghai.
Ferrari team principal Jean Todt was full of praise for his driver, his team and the organisers of the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix after Rubens Barrichello claimed a narrow victory in Sunday's historic race on the outskirts of Shanghai. Furthermore, Todt explained that it was an important win for Ferrari as they attempt to establish themselves in this emerging market.
Todt was particularly happy that Barrichello had risen to the challenge once Michael Schumacher had decided to start from the pit lane after a spin in qualifying and an engine change.
"I feel great satisfaction because it was important to rely on Rubens once we knew that, given Michael's starting position, everything would rest on the shoulders of one driver, one car and that everything would have to go perfectly, that Rubens would drive a perfect race, that the Bridgestone tyres would be perfect, that the team would be perfect."
Asked who he was most worried about, Todt said "Raikkonen was on the same strategy and Button was on a different strategy. They were the most difficult competitors. And of course ourselves. We needed to be reliable, not to make any mistakes."
"And finally, everything came together. So there was a certain relief, but also considerable satisfaction to see Ferrari take its 14th win of the season, Rubens take his second consecutive win of the season and a victory here in China on the occasion of this first Grand Prix on a remarkable circuit, all of which was something very gratifying."
Todt was especially complimentary of the organisers. "We know there were a lot of people here. I think we have to thank the organisers who have done such a good job and who thought of the idea of organising a Formula One Grand Prix and then we saw a superb race."
"I don't think there is a single circuit which has either the ambitions or the means to create a similar facility, so one can only congratulate a country like China which has the courage to organise and construct a circuit of such magnitude."
And it was important for the team's and Ferrari's image. "It wasn't just a big plus, it was very important for our project here in China even if the road is long and we are only just starting," said Todt.
"We're going to tour the commercial possibilities here in China. We're going to Hong Kong tomorrow. It's still developing and there's a long way to go. We need to establish a network of concessionaires and dealers, things like after sales so we need to find the right people in order to create all that."
"A few weeks ago we established a joint venture where Ferrari has 40 percent with two Chinese partners, one of which is already our partner in Hong Kong called Italian Motors and the other which is a huge industrial group, and together we are going to try and establish a network of dealers in China. We have ambitions but there's a lot of work to do before we achieve them."
"It has great potential because we know how many inhabitants there are in China, even though most of them don't have the earnings that would allow them to buy a Ferrari or Maserati, it's more known for the number of bicycles! Until now, we sell 50 cars here."
Todt was also sympathetic to what some had called Michael Schumacher's unlucky weekend. "He did the quickest time in the first qualifying session yesterday. That's not such bad luck. He spun in the race, that doesn't happen to him often but he's a human being so he may spin. After that it was a succession of things. He started from the pit lane, overtaking wasn't easy."
"Then he had the loss of downforce from the car in front of him so he lost grip. Behind Alonso he spun so we changed his strategy. Then he had a problem with a puncture, a rear left, so all that put together didn't allow him to race. He could have finished in the points easily. But we know very well that if you're not in front or close to the front it's unpredictable."
Finally, Todt's verdict on the first Chinese Grand Prix was complimentary: "A great race, a great welcome, great organisation: outstanding!"