After Sunday's controversial United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, Jean Todt clarified Ferrari's position in the run-up to the situation which led to 14 Michelin runners peeling off into the pits at the end of the parade lap, taking no further...
After Sunday's controversial United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, Jean Todt clarified Ferrari's position in the run-up to the situation which led to 14 Michelin runners peeling off into the pits at the end of the parade lap, taking no further part in the race. But first Todt admitted that "I feel sorry about what happened, but I mainly feel sorry for all the supporters who were here, for the American supporters, for the TV viewers but it was not our decision."
The reason why the Michelin runners took no part in the race was because they had unsuitable tyres on which they were recommended not to race. Compromises were sought from various sources to let the Michelin runners race, even for no points, but no solution was found.
At one point, a chicane was suggested in the quick banked corner at the end of the lap, where one of the Michelin tyre failures took place during practice. Todt explained that he was not consulted on this.
"We were never involved with those discussions," said Todt. "Never involved. We were never asked about that. Whether we would have agreed or not is another question, and I tell you right now, to be sincere, we would not have agreed, but we were never asked about that. But is it serious to decide to put in a chicane half an hour without nobody testing it? It's ridiculous."
Todt did say that Bernie Ecclestone had talked to him about "different proposals, including a chicane, but again, it's a matter of the FIA, it's not a matter of the commercial rights holder (Ecclestone's position). And I said that for me it was up to the FIA to decide."
Continuing to explain his position, Todt pointed out that "number one, it's an FIA decision. Number two, if something happened on the other side; if, for example, we don't have enough grip for qualifying and we ask for three laps because we have good grip after the third lap, or if we ask for a chicane because we feel it would be safer for our tyres, I think everybody would laugh at us. So you just have to be prepared to react to a situation.
"You have two sets of tyres which you chose from, one normally is soft, the other one is hard and then you make your choice. I feel sorry for those who could not compete, but I feel more sorry, again, for the supporters."
Todt then explained the disadvantages of the sudden installation of a chicane. "If we knew beforehand that there would be a chicane, we would have come prepared for a chicane. We would come with different tyres, we would have a different set-up on the car, we would have different gear ratios.
"Honestly, why should we compromise? We try to do a good job with Bridgestone, and we did not do a very good job with Bridgestone since the beginning of the year. We arrive, we are in a situation where we see from Friday that we are competitive, we don't have any problem with tyres so for us it's an opportunity."
There was even a suggestion that the Michelin teams would compete for no points if a chicane was installed. But Todt's reply was "would we have competed for no points? I say no. If this race would have been a race without points which cannot be, it would have been out of the FIA standard, we would not have started."
Asked what sort of harm the boycott had done the image of Formula One, Todt replied "very bad. I wish we could come back to the States because it's a very important country, it's now our number one market, the States, and for so many years Bernie has tried to implement something in the States. Unfortunately, it was not the best demonstration today. It has been a hard hit for Formula One today."
Todt explained that the teams had been warned about pushing the tyre situation to the limit. "We all got a letter two weeks ago warning us after the Monte Carlo race and after Nurburgring when Raikkonen had his problem, that we had to pay special attention to the tyres, the pressures, about all that, and it's something we thought could happen for a while."
Asked under what circumstances he would you have been willing to race with the Michelin runners, Todt said "I would say three options. One, they could have changed their tyres. Two, they would have to compromise in this specific corner. And three, they could have used the pit lane. If these cars cannot take this corner, what can I do? You would have had a race."