Ferrari's team principal Jean Todt was understandably happy following the brilliant winning debut of Ferrari's new 2003-GA at Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix -- particularly as it put the team and its drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello...
Ferrari's team principal Jean Todt was understandably happy following the brilliant winning debut of Ferrari's new 2003-GA at Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix -- particularly as it put the team and its drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello firmly back in the title race following the retirement of both championship-leading McLarens.
Todt went on to say that a lot had been learned about the new car in Spain. "We know where are the strengths of the car, where are the weaknesses and we still have a lot of development. We were at the end of the development with the F2002 and we are starting to develop the 2003-GA. Saying that, knowing the potential of the car, it was crucial to finish the race and so we did, so it was very encouraging."
The Ferrari team principal went on to admit that he ran the new cars with some trepidation. "I was more nervous, of course, having a new car and not knowing its reliability potential exactly during the race. But I knew that if it would have been the other way around, then the gap would have been much more difficult to catch up, and so going in this direction was in a way releasing us until the next race."
Asked if Ferrari would still have won the race in the car they used to win at Imola two weeks ago, Todt replied "I think it would have been more difficult. Even if you see that the quickest time last year was Michael with 1m 20.355s and he did 20.307s and I think 21.40s for Rubens. It's not a very big difference in the lap time. It would be interesting to see what is the difference with the others."
Replying to the suggestion that the opposition had not been particularly impressed by the new Ferrari, suggesting it might have been quicker, Todt refuted such suggestions. "Maybe they were disappointed but we were not disappointed. It would be very presumptuous to say we were not satisfied but for the first race it was a great result: pole, first and second position with more fuel than our direct competitors behind so it shows the potential of the car and definitely the race was very difficult and we managed to do it."
In spite of the challenge in Spain from Renault driver Fernando Alonso, Todt still believes that the main opposition comes from McLaren. "We knew and we saw that Renault were going to be strong and the car has very good potential on this kind of circuit. I think they had very good tyres and Alonso did a very good job; definitely they took a good step forward.
"But we we will see McLaren with a new car and we know that McLaren is strong on all the circuits and if you see the start of the season, without having problems, Renault was not as consistent as McLaren was. Still they are in the game.
But Todt didn't see the Ferrari victory as a turning point in the championship. "No, we still have 11 races. I keep saying every two weeks I feel that people react too quickly. We have to see after 16 races."
The win was important, said Todt, but the respite from pressure is brief. "It was very important to win at Imola, it's very important to win here and it's very important to win in Austria but if we don't win the motivation remains the same because we will do as much as we can to win the race. It's our job. But of course, it's probably more rewarding.
"Until tomorrow morning we are in a better spirit because things are easier rather than having to spend ten days wondering what will be the outcome of the next race but we know we are a good team, good drivers, good car, good partners so definitely it's a big motivation to keep this standard, even if we know that we are not sure we are going to succeed in coming races. "