It hasn't quite got to crisis point, but Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team principal Jean Todt was painfully aware that his team has recently taken a step backwards when he spoke after the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday, the second race...
It hasn't quite got to crisis point, but Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team principal Jean Todt was painfully aware that his team has recently taken a step backwards when he spoke after the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday, the second race in an Anglo-Franco double-header.
Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello had finished sixth and seventh at Silverstone -- although Michael had at least been on the podium a week earlier in France.
"Clearly, we had a big drop in performance during the race because we were missing grip," explained Todt, "and if you take a few races ago, it's our competitors who had a drop in performance during the race, and we were very strong."
As to the chances of reviving past performances and challenging at the front, Todt added "so if we are able to find the right mixture and do a better job, it's possible."
Todt explained how things had got progressively worse during the weekend. "It was an unpleasant surprise, but we were facing the same situation as one week ago. It was about the same, not worse."
"If you take the quickest lap time during the race, last week, this week, if you see what has happened on Friday when we were very competitive , then Saturday struggling a bit more, and then Sunday during the race struggling much more.
"Since a few races, we have moved backwards. Again, if you see the lap times during the race, very often this year we did the quickest lap time or very close to the quickest. At Magny Cours we were 1.3s off, here we were 1.2s behind the quickest time. Our competitors managed to do the quickest time on the last lap. After the 20th lap, we struggled more and more, so we went backwards."
Todt explained "we mainly lack grip. It's very difficult to judge clearly for us where it comes from. It's not just the aerodynamics, because if it was only the aerodynamics, we would never be able to do a quick time, like we did on Friday. Then we are with the others, same level of fuel, and we are at the same speed. And then we dropped back."
"But for the other teams, it's easier to identify where the problem is, because there are several teams in the same situation. With all respect to Jordan and Minardi, it's very difficult for us to have a good comparison with them. So for that reason, it's up to us, together with Bridgestone to try to get the best analysis as possible."
For that reason, Todt was unwilling to go deeper into the problem, and it's not just a matter of more testing. "First we need to analyse because testing for testing's sake doesn't make us quicker. We need to analyse why on Friday we are competitive, why on Saturday we may lose performance and why on Sunday we definitely lose a lot of performance. We need to analyse why. To identify the problem is quite easy, to solve the problem is more difficult but that's what we have to do."
Todt says that there is a huge human data bank that can help solve the problem. "All our development always comes from a certain know-how. The people who have been participating in the success of Ferrari in the past are the same people there now, so it's not a situation whereby we have lost the know-how. At the moment, we simply are not quick enough."
Asked if he though if it was possible to make such a big step in such a short space of time, Todt said "I don't know. I don't have all the parameters in hand, so it's possible but very difficult. We have to analyse, Bridgestone have to analyse. If it has given the result we expected the answer is no, but that's why we have to analyse and they have to analyse the situation with our technical people."
"We need to see how to react and what can be done. I cannot tell you if it's possible or not within a very short time. But it's a new challenge for sure. Then again I've been in much more difficult situations: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, so all of those and part of 1999; all those were more difficult."