Ferrari team principal Jean Todt would allow himself "a quarter of a smile" after Michael Schumacher's brilliant drive through the field to a fighting second place behind Fernando Alonso in Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix. Jean Todt and...
Ferrari team principal Jean Todt would allow himself "a quarter of a smile" after Michael Schumacher's brilliant drive through the field to a fighting second place behind Fernando Alonso in Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix.
"Michael drove a champion's race yesterday," said Todt. However, there had been such disappointments during Saturday's and Sunday's qualifying and finally the race itself that, given Michael Schumacher's and Ferrari's speed in the race, even second place gave little satisfaction.
"It was a bad surprise this morning because we were hoping to be on the first two rows with Michael and then fighting to win the race," Todt said of the second qualifying session, when Schumacher ran wide at Rivazza after locking up under braking, relegating him to 13th on the grid.
"We knew that it was a compromise with Rubens, because of the first lap time yesterday," Todt continued. "We knew it was going to be very difficult concerning Michael and Rubens's situation and then finally it is a quarter of a smile because Rubens retired with an electrical problem, which is not our standard and Michael, after passing so many obstacles, still remained behind one."
Schumacher really showed the speed of the new F2005 in its second race during the middle stint when he reduced a 21s deficit to Jenson Button's BAR-Honda to nothing in 14 laps. Soon after, he set fastest lap of the race, 0.8s quicker than anyone else's.
"It's encouraging," said Todt of the car's speed. "We know where we have to put our effort, and I hope that we can have a better smile soon. We were quick in Bahrain, but we couldn't express it. Bahrain was the first race (with the F2005) and that was encouraging which was good. Now we have scored the first points with the F2005 and let's hope that we will have many more."
However, Todt didn't harbour too many hopes of victory, even when Schumacher had caught leader Alonso, whom he harried for the last eleven laps. "You know overtaking is almost impossible in motor racing, not just in Formula One. I think on four wheels it is almost impossible, unless there are very slippery conditions. In dry conditions it cannot happen. Look at the beginning of the race, it was just a procession."
Todt's expectations, however, were high. He derived little pleasure from Schumacher's superb drive to bring him into contention for the lead behind Alonso. "Only Michael winning," could make him happy. "It was the only thing I wanted. The only thing which makes me happy is to see Ferrari winning. I didn't enjoy the racing in the last ten laps as much as you did!"
And Ferrari still have work to do. "We need to improve qualifying, we need to start in front. If we start in front we will be very strong. That's why we were so strong last year, because we were able to start in front. If we can start in front I'm convinced we can disappear."
Two performances at Imola may suggest that would be difficult: Kimi Raikkonen's eight laps in the lead before retirement and Alonso's win. Of these, Todt admitted that Raikkonen "seemed to be very strong today. Alonso drove a great race. He had no problems, the only problem was that he was too slow and he managed to stay in front doing a good job, but again, overtaking is very difficult. Michael only overtook during the pit stops."