"We don't have good enough tyres for the qualifying and the others don't have good enough tyres for the race." That was Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's Jean Todt speaking after the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. The team principal was mainly referring...
"We don't have good enough tyres for the qualifying and the others don't have good enough tyres for the race." That was Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's Jean Todt speaking after the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. The team principal was mainly referring to the Renaults which lead the championship, who had problems with their Michelin tyres and fell back during the race.
But Todt knows that Ferrari has problems with its Bridgestone tyres in qualifying. "Saying that, at the moment, it seems that it's better to qualify in front rather than to be very strong during the race, so we have to protect our partners. I rate them so highly as humans and as partners. They have been so strong. They have contributed so much to all the success we have achieved, and it would be very very very mean to forget that."
Once again, Todt emphased that "we need to be higher up on the grid. We were quicker today by three or four seconds, quicker than those ahead of us today, but it wasn't enough to overtake those ahead of us. We need to be better placed in qualifying."
Todt went on to explain the complexities of the problem. "It's very difficult. We know the weak point. The tarmac, the asphalt is very different from one race to another. We need to have immediate performance on one lap, that's our weak point. We are working on it.
"We know that during the race we are very competitive. We had another demonstration of it today where, during a certain part of the race, we were over three seconds quicker than the other competitors. Michael (Schumacher) was lapped because of the incident he had; he had to refuel earlier to change the front wing and he finished just over 35s behind after being blocked for most of the last part of the race, so it's bit similar to what we saw in Imola."
Todt said that the conclusion from the race was that "when the track is clear, we are quick. But the problem is we compromise our racing by starting so far behind." And he said that Ferrari were certainly quick enough to challenge Renault and McLaren, for whom Kimi Raikkonen has won the last two races. "If we start with them, yes. You can take the lap times during the race, I think you will see we are better."
Todt says that the possible change in qualifying rules for the next race, which will see drivers doing just one lap to establish the grid positions, could help. "It will probably be better for us," he explained.
Todt put into perspective the suggestion that Schumacher has suffered bad luck in recent races. "Overall, he has not been unlucky and we have not been unlucky. But it's the same with (teammate) Rubens (Barrichello). Rubens stalled the engine, then he had this penalty for speeding in the pit lane but that's racing. It's happened to the others, it's happened to us sometimes as well.
He went on to explain how his job changes when the going gets tough after years of success. "You become more fragile. In adversity you have to be closer, all the people have to be more looked after. Such good people, such a good team, you definitely get frustrated but on the other hand, I think it's rewarding to resist.
"As I said very often, the Sunday after a race we have been going through this sort of period which was even more difficult and we overcame it. And our competitors as well. You take some of our competitors who are at the top of the classification now, they have had a tough time for many many years and they have been resisting so we are not doing something outstanding."
As for Schumacher, Todt says "he's not happy, you know. He would prefer a better situation, but it's a challenge for him too. Michael has always been so close to the team, he loves the team, he loves what he does, so he's keen to get back to success."
Todt says that he still has hopes of conserving his World Championship titles. "Of course we have hope, there are still 13 Grands Prix to go and we are working hard to get back to where we were last year. Whether it will be enough or not remains to be seen."
"It's difficult but so many things can happen. Let's say the others are quite well ahead, but if you go back two Grands Prix, everything was focused on one driver. Then you had Raikkonen who has won the last two Grands Prix and immediately things have changed, so let's hope we are the ones to win the next two Grands Prix."