Ferrari may have dominated last Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, but after Michael Schumacher's 36 second victory, team principal Jean Todt rejected suggestions that Ferrari was lucky following two mechanical problems in the run-up to the race. The...
Ferrari may have dominated last Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, but after Michael Schumacher's 36 second victory, team principal Jean Todt rejected suggestions that Ferrari was lucky following two mechanical problems in the run-up to the race.
The first had occurred during the morning warm-up, when Michael Schumacher stopped on the circuit with a hydraulic problem, forcing him to take the team's spare or T-car. The second problem, electronic, prevented Rubens Barrichello from taking the start, causing his fourth retirement of the year.
Todt's reaction emphasized the team's focus. "The warm-up is when you discover the problems," he said, "and what happened to Rubens was unlucky. Definitely, we weren't 100 per cent on top and we have to work to be more on top."
But he rejected appreciation that Schumacher had won in the spare car. "The T-car, what is the T-car? What does it mean? It's just that you have to give a name to the car, but it's exactly the same as the others. It ran in the morning. There's no magic to this, just hard work."
Todt certainly isn't complacent, even when his cars are a second a lap quicker than the competition. "Yes, it is impressive. Everything came together to make us extremely competitive. In one Grand Prix out of 17, it is the ultimate machine. We've already had four in which things have gone relatively well but there are still another 12 to go and we will judge it at the end of the season. It's a bit early to say now. Yes, there's great satisfaction, great relief as we have after each race which has gone well and we are happy until tomorrow morning."
But he also revealed a certain amount of anxiety, even in these days of domination. "One is anxious during races, and we work between Grands Prix. There was worry at the start of the Spanish Grand Prix, but also throughout the 65 laps because in spite of Ferrari's great domination we were aware that if we didn't have reliability, whatever the performance of the F2002, we wouldn't score points. I admit that it was with great relief when we saw Michael and his Ferrari cross the start/finish line.
"It's true that it was a relatively easy race where the combination of car, engine, tyres and driver worked in the right direction and were basically unbeatable."
As ever, Todt paid tribute to his team of engineers with the usual message that there are other very talented people working for the opposition. Asked whether he ever imagined that Ferrari could design and construct a car that would be quite so far ahead of the competition, he replied "No. The imagination comes from the people in the team, who also have great talent and a lot of determination, who are capable of conceiving a winning car. They're not the only ones, so we must concentrate on the continuation of the championship and what is required to remain in front."
Asked if he himself has a life, he admits it's not quite what he wants. "Not sufficiently a life for my taste," he emphasizes, "but it's the choice one makes. When you chose to do a difficult job, then you have to do that job and to do it well takes time."
But he does admit that we are enjoying an extraordinary era in motor racing history but it is not one to savour now. "Sure, it may be the case that this is an amazing time in motor sport, but we will only appreciate it later. When we are retired, we hopefully have time to enjoy if, if we are still living."
For now, the work continues. "We are testing this week in Fiorano, Mugello and Monza." Luciano Burti will be testing for three days in Monza in the old car, Luca Badoer will be out on Tuesday and Wednesday at Fiorano, and Rubens Barrichello will spend Thursday and Friday at Mugello. "We need to test," - concludes Todt - "everybody's testing."