Ferrari team principal Jean Todt admitted that his team's effort in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix had become a damage limitation exercise after Michael Schumacher finished second to Fernando Alonso and their respective teammates finishing fourth...
Ferrari team principal Jean Todt admitted that his team's effort in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix had become a damage limitation exercise after Michael Schumacher finished second to Fernando Alonso and their respective teammates finishing fourth and fifth.
"It became damage limitation at the end of the race," said Todt. "If the race is not over, anything can happen and finally to finish second and fifth as against first and fourth, it's three points difference, it's limited the damage but I would prefer it the other way around.
"The feeling is a bit like after Silverstone," said Todt. "When you are hoping to win and you finish second and fifth there is a bit of disappointment but saying that, we chose a strategy which was to do qualifying with a lot of fuel and it's always easy afterwards to say it was good, not good but it was not good enough to allow us to win the race.
"Saying that," Todt continued, "second and fifth is not as good as first and second, but they are important points in the championship. However, it makes it more difficult, because every time you lose three points to the opposition who mainly with one car, one driver, make no mistakes, everything goes well so it makes the things difficult, but that's the challenge."
Ferrari know where Renault have the edge. "It's probably a little bit everywhere," explained Todt. "They have a better first lap in qualifying, about two tenths. If you take the weight of the cars, knowing when they stopped, when we stopped it's about two tenths, so maybe they have a better first lap and as for consistency, it's very difficult from one race to another one, the development of the track, the development of the tyres, the weather conditions."
What makes Renault so strong? Quite simply, says Todt, "they have a good package, good driver, good team, no mistakes. So far the most consistent is Alonso with Renault and Michelin, it's the only thing we can really state at the moment."
Asked if there are chassis or engine developments coming which may give Ferrari an advantage over Renault, Todt replied "we know roughly what is coming for us, but we don't know what is coming for the others, so it's during the course of the race weekend that we have an understanding. When you do seven hundred kilometres a day in private testing it's because you have something to test which is due to improve the performance of the car." Todt admitted that Ferrari haven't actually accelerated the rhythm of development? "We do what we can do," he answered.
McLaren have improved over the last two or three races which could prove to be a double-edged sword in Ferrari's fight for the championship. "It all depends on where they will finish," says Todt. "If they finish between Renault and us, it's no good. If we are in front and they finish in front of Renault it will be good for us. I would say that at the moment McLaren is behind us. It doesn't mean that they are not strong, they are strong and from one race to another, it's such a little difference in lap time that you cannot predict in which order it will be."
Looking ahead to next weekend's US Grand Prix at Indianapolis, where Michelin have never won, Todt pointed out that "the biggest problem at the moment is that Renault can allow themselves to have an average race, which has not happened so far. We cannot allow that to happen to us, because it would make a much bigger gap, so on this side they are in a much stronger position than we are. It is not only one race. And there's no reason why they should not be competitive, as there is no reason why we should not be competitive. How competitive? There will not be a big difference."
Todt is a great mathematician. "I like numbers," he says. "We still have nine races to go and numbers are still allowing us to think that we can achieve what we want to achieve. We are still fighting, still fighting and hoping that we can still win races and pretend to improve our position in the championship. If we can reverse the trend, we will try to win the championship. I still believe there is a chance."