"It's getting more difficult. Every race where the others score six, eight, ten points more than us makes it more difficult for us. But it's a long championship, there are 14 races to go." That was Ferrari team principal Jean Todt's championship...
"It's getting more difficult. Every race where the others score six, eight, ten points more than us makes it more difficult for us. But it's a long championship, there are 14 races to go."
That was Ferrari team principal Jean Todt's championship appraisal after last Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona where Ferrari failed to score a championship point, following poor qualifying from both drivers and eventual retirement for Michael Schumacher with two deflating tyres.
In terms of resources, Todt admitted that "we have everything. It's up to us. We don't do a good enough job, that's clear. We're not going to find excuses. There's not a lot missing. But we must start in front. If we start in front we will be strong."
That, in a nutshell, is Ferrari's current handicap: qualifying. And in turn, that is caused by the lack of performance of their tyres over one lap. Of all the things that Ferrari have to improve, that would be Todt's priority.
"I would say it is mainly that first lap. It puts us in a difficult and critical situation. It's so much easier when you start ahead. If you start in front you remain in front. We are quite good on durability up to a certain point, but we have to analyse what happened (here). We had an engine problem on Rubens's car, which completely compromised his race, even if it wasn't caused by fundamental new parts on this part of the engine. I would say unfortunately it's things that normally happen, because we have been so successful without having any failures and then suddenly they come. It's under our control, it's up to us, we have to work better."
Todt pointed out that there are advantages and disadvantages to being the only competitive team on Bridgestone tyres. "We are alone fighting with Bridgestone tyres. As I have said, Bridgestone is a great partner, great, because we've won more than anybody else with them. But if we have the slightest problem, which is the case at the moment, we end up with eight cars in front of us. But do I complain? No, we know this, but we wanted this situation.
"Having said that, we would have nothing against another top team on Bridgestone. It would definitely help in testing," continued Todt before explaining Bridgestone's current situation with one lap tyre development. "They are working on it, but you know then to achieve a result is a question mark, and before the next race? It can be two races, three, five or anything."
The Spanish Grand Prix was won by Kimi Raikkonen by over 20s from Fernando Alonso, who had won the last three races. Was Todt surprised by Raikkonen's pace? "It was the same pace at Imola when Raikkonen was in front, and definitely Alonso was struggling for a while," said Todt.
Michael Schumacher had been third when he retired; could he have finished second? "I don't want to guess. The only thing I know is that he was heavier than the others, which allowed him to be third when he retired. Unless a specific problem arose, he would have been fighting to improve the situation. Whether he would have done it or not, I don't know."
But Todt has been encouraged by the performance of the Ferrari F2005 since its debut three races ago. "We were very competitive in Bahrain until we were in the race. At Imola we were very competitive but we started too far back. Here, today, we were very competitive until we had a problem, and we started too far back. It's what I said. We are competitive, but at the moment we don't score points, which is no good. It's better not to be competitive and score maximum points, but that wouldn't happen either."