Ferrari's team principal Jean Todt was taking the rough with the smooth after his team's performance in the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir. Neither Michael Schumacher nor Rubens Barrichello finished the 57 lap race in the points, but Ferrari could...
Ferrari's team principal Jean Todt was taking the rough with the smooth after his team's performance in the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir. Neither Michael Schumacher nor Rubens Barrichello finished the 57 lap race in the points, but Ferrari could be heartened by Schumacher racing with eventual winner Fernando Alonso for the first 11 laps of the race.
"It's true that, with Michael, we had the possibility to check that the potential of the new F2005 throughout the weekend and it is considerable. Unfortunately, we didn't reap the benefits of this potential, given Michael's retirement on the 11th lap with a hydraulic leak. So that's the most disappointing angle, the most frustrating.
"As for Rubens," continued Todt, "he was handicapped by a gearbox problem throughout the weekend. He could only do the qualifying sessions on Saturday and Sunday morning and then started on the back row of the grid but fought back superbly. Unfortunately, it was with a car that wasn't ideally suited to him so that he used his rear tyres too hard and he lost all possibility of scoring points. Having said that, it was an interesting test session which I hope will bear fruit in the next race at Imola."
Did it surprise Todt how good the car was, given its lack of testing and lack of reliability? "We knew that we had a good car, that was the reason why we brought forward its debut but having said that, a good car isn't enough, you need a car that finishes races and finishes races in the points and if possible, on the top step of the rostrum."
"That's what we've got used to over the last few years and we have the full intention of doing that again as soon as possible. We had done less testing than usual but enough to know the car sufficiently. The problems that we experienced were a little unexpected."
The surprise was indeed the nature of the two problems that dominated the drivers' weekend. Todt explained that Michael's retirement was due to a hydraulic leak: "It was the hydraulic pump. You know we need to analyse each problem but Michael's problem was not due to the new car. It wasn't something that had been changed from the old car to the new car. And Rubens had two different problems. The morning's (gearbox) problem (at the end of second qualifying) was different to the problem he had the day before."
So in which direction will the team be working in the next three weeks up to Imola? "We want to get to know the car better, to cure the reliability problems that we encountered, to work closely with Bridgestone, our tyre supplier and then I think that if we can do that with some success, then we shouldn't be in too bad a situation for the championship."
And the championship is still definitely attainable, says Todt, judging from previous year's experience. "But we must score more points very quickly, because otherwise we will compromise our chances. If from Imola we start doing what we did in 2004, then if you see the difference in points to the others at the end of last season we could have coped with having three bad races. So we will see."
How has Todt and the team coped with this unfamiliar start to the season, after becoming used to such success in the past? "I know racing so well after so many years, to know that things are never easy and that when there are cycles, those cycles can end at one moment or another. I hope that the cycle that came to an end at the start of this season is simply a temporary feature; whatever, that's what we hope to prove very quickly."
"The atmosphere is very strong in the team, to work harder if necessary. Of course we prefer success, but as I have said before, we had so much success so we must be prepared... That's maybe why we never enjoyed our success as much as we could, because we knew that we would have some tough times, so we are prepared, we are prepared to have a tough time, but we are prepared to have better times as well."
"The situation already seems very dark, very bad, which I can understand but I think there's not a lot missing to be able to be in a much stronger position. We just need to be reliable for the whole race weekend and then to work properly with Bridgestone. We have some testing programmes which are going in this direction, and I am convinced we will overcome this difficult period."