With the announcement at the start of the week that several key personnel, including Jean Todt himself, have renewed their contracts with the Scuderia to the end of 2006, this topic was the main subject of questioning when the Managing Director of...
With the announcement at the start of the week that several key personnel, including Jean Todt himself, have renewed their contracts with the Scuderia to the end of 2006, this topic was the main subject of questioning when the Managing Director of the Gestione Sportiva met the press at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this afternoon.
"You must remember that our current agreements were not about to end in a week," pointed out Todt. "We decided to anticipate any comment and put an end to speculation by announcing that, at Ferrari, all is stable for many years."
Asked what personally motivated him to continue, Todt invoked a number of factors: "I love Ferrari and the team around me and I also love success," he said. "I am not young anymore, but also I am not old enough to retire. In addition, I feel I have a responsibility to Ferrari and part of that is to work on the future of the company and the team."
On the subject of what he felt was his greatest achievement with Ferrari, Todt began by stating he did not like thinking in terms of superlatives. "But the biggest achievement has probably been building this 'dream team.' Now the challenge is to maintain that situation. When you look at what Ferrari has achieved in the past ten years, it is more than any other team in F1, in terms of wins, championships, but also in the stability of the team. When Michael first came to Ferrari, some people thought he would only last six months. Today, no one can imagine him driving for any other team."
But with 2006 a long way off, what happens if Schumacher decides he wants to stop before the end of his new contract? "The contract we have states that Michael will drive for Ferrari until the end of 2006," repeated Todt. "In fact, as far as Ferrari is concerned, he can drive for the team for as long as he likes. But if one day, he comes to me and says he wants to stop, do you think I will bring a policeman and a lawyer and show him a contract which says he must drive? Of course not!"
Some members of the media suggested that Rubens Barrichello, whose contract expires at the end of 2004, might now feel alienated by not having his contract extended. "This is a situation Rubens has experienced before," Todt reminded his audience. "He renewed his contract for 2003 and 2004 at a later time to Michael. It is part of the way Formula 1 works and one just has to accept that. But Rubens knows he gets the same technical support, the same equipment and the same personal help. We will speak to Rubens when the time comes to do it."
On the subject of Felipe Massa, who joined the Scuderia as test driver earlier this year, Todt expressed satisfaction with the work the youngster is doing. "However, it is too early to say just how good he is," added Todt. "I cannot give you an accurate assessment yet. We need to give him as much testing as he can do. He is young, good, talented and motivated and we are helping him learn about fitness, his approach and way of communicating with a team. I hope he will drive for a Formula 1 team next year."