Jean Todt states 'Williams are our closest rivals'

Maranello, 18th March - Jean Todt and the Ferrari return to Europe this week happy that they have earned 14 points in the World Championship from the first two Grands Prix of the year, particularly as they have been won by a car based on last...

Maranello, 18th March - Jean Todt and the Ferrari return to Europe this week happy that they have earned 14 points in the World Championship from the first two Grands Prix of the year, particularly as they have been won by a car based on last year's Ferrari 2001. "We're glad to have the points," he said. Even so, Todt himself admits that third place in yesterday's Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit was "disappointing."

"Given our qualifying performance, the result in last weekend's race can only be described as that," said the Ferrari team principal. He was particularly upset for Rubens Barrichello, who he admitted would normally have finished on the rostrum, but for an engine failure. "That's rare for us," continued Todt. "It's a real shame for Rubens, though, particularly as this is the second race in which he has failed to score points."

However, there was much focus on the accident at the first corner, where Michael Schumacher -- on the inside of the corner -- and Juan Pablo Montoya -- on the outside -- collided which necessitated a pit stop for Michael which relegated him to the back of the field, and resulted in a 'drive-through' penalty for Juan Pablo.

"It's the second time that an accident at the first corner has been expensive for us," said Todt. "Last time it was worse. All we had to do this time was change the wing. But then it turns into a different race for the team and driver. In a way, it's good for racing because it's unpredictable."

And once again, the decision of the stewards to penalize Montoya was discussed. "We have to accept the stewards' decision," explained Todt. "Definitely, it would be better to have a clear rule but I think it's very difficult to make a clear rule. I think it was a racing incident.

"It's very difficult to change the regulations. It's not rational or mathematical. You have to judge a situation very quickly. It's like soccer. You have to judge it even quicker in soccer. Here you have one race every two weeks. We have more time, but still, even though you can depend on the on-board camera, it's very difficult. In Australia, everyone was complaining that nothing was done. Here everyone is complaining because something has been done."

Meanwhile, the team returns to Europe to continue testing the F2002. Asked if there was more pressure now to start using it, Todt said "We don't work with pressure. Pressure is on the outside. The others are strong, they are pushing, but as soon as we are confident we will take the new car."

As for the Brazilian Grand Prix in two weeks time, Todt refused to be drawn as to whether the scenario might be the same as in Malaysia. "It's never the same because the track is different, the temperatures are different, the surface of the track is different, the tyres constructions and compounds are different. Every time is a new challenge."

But he did admit that after their historic one-two in Malaysia "Now I can say, yes, Williams are our closest rivals. You know it changes very quickly. But I wouldn't write McLaren off."

-ferrari-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Jean Todt
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams