"It's probably the worst result of the season" was how Jean Todt summed up Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's third and fifth places in last weekend's European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in Germany. But even so, he drew some consolation that both ...
"It's probably the worst result of the season" was how Jean Todt summed up Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's third and fifth places in last weekend's European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in Germany. But even so, he drew some consolation that both Michael Schumacher and the team are still in the lead of their respective championships.
"Even if we have had more difficult races, it's the first time that we're not in a position to compete, to win the Grand Prix. In all the other races, even if Ferrari didn't won during the first three races of the season, they have been the quickest on the track. But at the Nurburgring we weren't the fastest. So we need to analyse, to understand. We have already quite a good idea of the situation, we just have to work very hard with our technical partners and mainly with Bridgestone."
Would it be too easy just to blame the tyre manufacturer? "Yes, sure but we are not intending to blame them because it would be completely wrong. We know the importance of tyres. Thanks to them, we had an outstanding season last year."
Todt, however, points out that this is exactly how a Formula One season should be. "We didn't expect to have such an easy season in 2002 when Ferrari won 15 races out of 17, but we consider what has happened this year is closer to what should happen during a Formula One season where major manufacturers are taking part as are the biggest tyre manufacturers.
"So this year is more difficult, more difficult because the others made some good steps forward but having said that, we are still leading both championships, notwithstanding a very difficult start."
What was Todt's resume of the European Grand Prix? "It was a difficult race. It was one of those races where you never knew what the final result would be and I think that we cannot complain about the final result because Michael could have ended his race in the gravel trap and he finished fifth. Rubens finished third, so that allowed us to keep our position in the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships. We know that we can't win each Grand Prix even if we try but the fact that we have two cars at the finish is an important factor."
Asked if Williams are now the major rival, Todt admitted: "After this Grand Prix, yes, but we mustn't forget that Raikkonen was leading the race before he had an engine failure." And Todt had no complaints about the stewards' decision regarding the incident between Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya. "A race incident. I think it's better to ask Michael what he thinks, he's driving the car rather than me improvising as a judge. So Michael commented that he felt it was a race incident so I think that's a good way to analyse."
Looking ahead, Todt said that the French Grand Prix, in a week's time, was going to be another difficult race, and reaction time is limited. "We don't have time to react but the components of the track are different. We know that Magny-Cours will not be an easy circuit for us but we know as well that with the package we have, some circuits are more difficult, some are easier. Magny-Cours is one of the difficult ones, Silverstone should be better. We just have to keep focused and work harder."
Looming in the horizon is a six week testing ban which comes into force after the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Todt points out that "We can't work on test circuits but we can still develop the engine, the aerodynamics; there are a lot of things we can do. It's the same for everybody."