"It was a strange race," was Ferrari team principal Jean Todt's summary after Michael Schumacher finished fourth in Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix. "I wouldn't say that we are happy or unhappy but I think that some others have been...
"It was a strange race," was Ferrari team principal Jean Todt's summary after Michael Schumacher finished fourth in Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix. "I wouldn't say that we are happy or unhappy but I think that some others have been happier than us. It could have been better, it could have been worse. Two teams were better than Ferrari yesterday, congratulations to them."
Todt, however, felt that the F2002 was actually the quickest car on Melbourne's Albert Park circuit. "We feel that what some people call the old car was probably the most competitive car on the track. We simply didn't get the best out of it. Sometimes you make the right choice, sometimes the choice is not giving what you would expect. It's easy to say afterwards that we should have done this or that, but there's no point in trying to find an excuse."
Asked why he thought Ferrari hadn't won, Todt explained that "first of all, we lost Rubens after six laps and then we had the strategy of two pit stops for dry conditions. When we started on wet tyres, we moved that strategy to one plus two stops but we never had the opportunity to exploit the situation because Michael always had traffic ahead of him. And when he had no traffic, he had a problem with the car because he lost the barge boards and then the car wasn't performing as it should have been."
Todt refused to admit that Schumacher had been lucky, in that there were two safety car periods and the car still seemed quick, in spite of the lack of its aerodynamic bargeboards. "The safety car didn't help us always. And no, we were not quick without the bargeboards, not quick enough. We lost about a second lap which is a big amount. He then would have stopped anyway for refueling but we did get a black and orange flag telling us there was a problem with the car."
He also pointed out that he thought Raikkonen's one-stop strategy was probably the better option during the 58 lap race. As for the Finn's battle to keep Schumacher behind him, Todt said "we told that Raikkonen was being investigated by the stewards, but that he had three laps before he could serve his drive-through penalty so we knew that he would stay on the track as long as possible, because that's normal."
Asked about the World Champion's mood, Todt said "he's OK. As long as we understand what's happened there's no more to say. If there's somebody to blame it is up to us to react and I would still say that I prefer this kind of situation rather than being a second slower per lap in normal conditions, which would be much more difficult to solve."
Todt went on to say that he didn't think that the new regulations had had any effect on the race or results. "Not here, not at all, it's easy to see that the first and third in the classification started from the back and nevertheless they won so today it was a different race.