Michael Schumacher took his fourth consecutive win of the season at Imola but Ferrari team principal Jean Todt is keeping an eye the little details. Although naturally happy about Schumacher's win, Todt was concerned that Rubens Barrichello...
Michael Schumacher took his fourth consecutive win of the season at Imola but Ferrari team principal Jean Todt is keeping an eye the little details. Although naturally happy about Schumacher's win, Todt was concerned that Rubens Barrichello couldn't get away from rivals and ended up finishing sixth. The Brazilian lost out at the start then spent much of the race stuck behind the Williams of Ralf Schumacher, then the Renault of Jarno Trulli.
"We saw (on race day) that little things can make a big difference," said Todt. "I would say Michael managed to pull away from the field but it wasn't the case for Rubens, who didn't manage to escape. He was overtaken at the start but couldn't fight back. It shows how important it is to be quick on one lap, not to make a mistake on one lap, to make the right strategy choice and then get it right all through the race. Little things can change quite a lot, as I said."
Ferrari certainly doesn't want to be fighting with Williams and Renault but they are not the only threat. BAR's Jenson Button took his maiden pole position at Imola and although Schumacher triumphed over the race distance, Button is proving to be a significant challenger.
"I'm scared when I see who we are fighting against," Todt admitted. "BAR is the surprise of the season, even though I'm only half surprised, because if you have a company like Honda involved in this business, it's not just to be part of the race."
"They want to be competitive and I'm sure that what they are getting at the moment is probably pleasing them, but it is not enough. If you take all the other manufacturers, you know better than me that it is a situation which cannot stay like that. That's why it's such big competition."
"If I am surprised, honestly, it's more by Ferrari. I keep saying this, but I live day by day in the Ferrari environment. We are a legendary company, but we are very small, lost in the middle of nowhere, a little province, and we have to face many more problems than all our other competitors. I really feel that it's outstanding to see what Ferrari is able to do since a few years now, and I simply hope that it can stay like that, but I'm scared when I see who we are fighting against."
Tyres are always a factor in a race and Button's Michelins outperformed Schumacher's Bridgestones in the opening laps of Imola. But once the reigning champion beat the BAR to the lead in the first round of pit stops, it didn't take him long to open up an unassailable gap.
"We can say that maybe their first lap is a bit quicker," Todt said of the Michelins. "Second lap is not bad either because if you take Button's best lap, he did it after the pit stop, on the second lap, because the first one is not a normal, proper timed lap. But what is very important is that Bridgestone is definitely doing a great job throughout the stint. Of course, we would like them to be quick on the first lap, quicker on the second, quicker on all…"
"We realised that our tyres were probably too cold at the beginning. Michael was commenting that he was sliding quite a lot, but after the first lap, he was back on the pace and slowly, slowly caught up with Button. We were hoping and thinking that Jenson was a bit lighter, which was the case, and then I think Michael took four seconds in two laps and that was it. It's easy to say, difficult to do, but still, that was the result."