Todt praises 'extraordinary record'

Ferrari team principal Jean Todt was understandably delighted after Michael Schumacher's second place clinched him his seventh victory in the World Championship for Drivers at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday. Michael Schumacher...

Ferrari team principal Jean Todt was understandably delighted after Michael Schumacher's second place clinched him his seventh victory in the World Championship for Drivers at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Michael Schumacher celebrates 7th World Drivers Championship with Ferrari team members.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.

"It is an extraordinary record," said Todt, who went on to say that it won't affect the German driver's future. "He has nothing to prove but he drives for pleasure, he does the job which is his passion, to drive for a team that he loves and which loves him. I think it's an enjoyable experience which he has no wish to end."

"In a way it might seem extraordinary but he's still young, he's very motivated, he's very fit and I repeat, he feels good, so he's in an environment which brings him joy, serenity, the feelings that he enjoys, so there's no reason for him to quit."

And Todt went on to emphasise the team's achievement in the 2004 season, with four races to go. "It should make us reflect when we have scored 216 points out of a possible 252. That does make you think what it means, as an effort from the team, from our partners to achieve that, so it's the best reward we could dream of."

Interestingly, though, it was clear that the team had opted for a cautious approach to the Belgian Grand Prix. "There wasn't anything really unusual, except that Ferrari had an agreement with Bridgestone to bring a fairly conservative tyre which favoured reliability compared to performance. Performance brought a certain risk which we didn't want to take on a circuit like Spa.

"It was a choice, it was a choice to go with what we were sure was reliable. We could have chosen to take more risk and to be quicker but we decided we wanted... it's a very quick circuit and we were never going to compromise safety just to be quicker, so it was our own decision to race with tyres we knew, that had proved to be reliable enough in these kind of circumstances."

This meant that the Ferrari team wasn't as powerful as they might have been. "Quite simply, there was a driver in front of him who was better, with a package that was better than ours, so we finished second and third."

Asked if he thought that Michael Schumacher had taken a different approach to the race, Todt replied "not really, he just tried to do the best with what he had and we don't know what would have happened without the safety car and all that. But we really did the best with what we had today. If the situation would have been on the other side maybe it would have been different, but I don't know if it would have changed anything."

And what were Todt's first words after the race? His reply reveals the special relationship that Todt has with his driver. "We don't have to talk, we just have to see each other. It's better than words. We have such a unique relationship. There's nothing special, it's just that we aim for the same final result and we just feel so much happiness and reward between us if we can achieve it."

Yet Michael was very thoughtful after his win; what did Todt think it meant to him? "A fantastic day. Sometimes it's hard to believe, what has happened over the last few years, because what Ferrari is doing, what Michael is doing for Ferrari -- if you love motor racing as we do love motor racing -- it has never happened in the whole history of motor sport so it's just fantastic."

What now for Ferrari? A change of approach, an experimental change of staff? "The same," says Todt. "We must win, we do what we want. You know today we are a bit disappointed because we like success. I know it's a bit stupid, but it's good sometimes to see that you have a car which is in front of you and which is stronger than you, so it gives you more motivation, more strength because you easily forget what you have achieved and you are more concentrated on what you have to achieve."

As for a change of approach when it comes to the team, Todt said "I don't know what the other teams will do, honestly. I don't think there are so many things you can do for the last four races. For us, we may do some tests with people, but not something really specific."

"We want Rubens to finish in second position in the Drivers' championship and we feel he's in a comfortable situation but still he has to deliver the job and the others are fighting for the Drivers' and Constructors' championship, so it's still very important for all of our competitors."

-ferrari-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Jean Todt
Teams Ferrari