Ups and downs for Ferrari

"If you play lottery you want to win," said Ferrari's Jean Todt after the extraordinary Hungarian Grand Prix last Sunday. Track conditions, grid positions and retirements had played their part and initially it looked as if Ferrari had lost out...

"If you play lottery you want to win," said Ferrari's Jean Todt after the extraordinary Hungarian Grand Prix last Sunday. Track conditions, grid positions and retirements had played their part and initially it looked as if Ferrari had lost out badly - when they might have capitalised on their rivals' misfortunes.

Cavallino rampante.
Photo by xpb.cc.

However, Ferrari's results became less and less disappointing as the weekend unfolded. Both Michael Schumacher and championship rival Fernando Alonso were penalised for driving infringements in practice which saw them start the race midfield, yet within a few laps of the wet race, they were into the top four.

Neither driver would finish in a surprising race of overtaking in changing conditions and fortunes, however, and initially only Felipe Massa's eighth place secured a point for Ferrari.

But late on Sunday evening, after Todt had left the circuit, came better news when newcomer Robert Kubica's BMW Sauber was disqualified from seventh place as it was underweight. Massa moved up a place and Schumacher scooped the final point and suddenly Ferrari's Hungarian Grand Prix points haul had grown from one point to three. That means that Ferrari is now seven points behind Renault and Michael is ten points behind Fernando Alonso with five races remaining.

Todt was initially downcast as he reviewed the race with hindsight. "We are starting to digest the situation," he said before Kubica's disqualification. "But as I said, it could have been much more disappointing. It's one race less so there's been a very small variation. It could have been a much bigger variation against us and a significant improvement in our favour, but that's racing. It's the way it happened. What does really count is that it's minus one point of difference, compared to what it was in the Manufacturers, and plus one for Felipe.

"Clearly, we have had some ups and downs in this race and we finished with very little difference in the championship. We were aiming for much worse at a certain period of the race. We were too slow at the beginning. We were much quicker when the track started to dry and we did not get the advantage of it. It's always easy, afterwards, to say or to conclude what would have been, but that's racing."

Tyre choice and the way they were used played a vital part in the race. Massa ended up with fastest lap, and Michael was very quick at one point, but at other stages in the race they were relatively slow. "I think it's very important, when you talk about tyre choice, to see which cars had which tyres at certain moments in the race," explained Todt. "If you see that, then you will understand quite clearly that we didn't have the proper tyres for the start of the race, and then when the track was drying, everybody was in a better situation, at least, those with the same tyres as those that we had."

Michael was ultimately sidelined when fighting hard to retain his position late in the race - even if he was finally credited with eighth place. Todt admitted that perhaps they should have advised Michael to ease up. "We did not want to disturb him but after seeing what had happened, probably we should have told him something, but it's always easy to say what you should have done when things are finished. He later told us over the radio that the car had become undriveable and he had to stop."

As for the penalty awarded to Michael Schumacher for overtaking two competitors under the red flag, Todt said "I think you have to watch the video. Everybody has his judgement but really everybody can make his own judgement by watching video."

Asked if he thought Alonso, one of the two drivers, had deliberately not accelerated, causing Schumacher to overtake, Todt said "again, I don't want to comment because unfortunately it would not change anything. I have a very strong opinion about that, but it doesn't change."

The eventual winner was Jenson Button, securing his first Grand Prix. Todt said "it was an obstacle race. He started 14th, won the race and he did a brilliant job. He deserves the success." But whether Button was now one of the top drivers today, Todt held reservations. "Before making such a specific conclusion, after one race, we have to decide that, I would be a bit more cautious."

-ferrari-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Michael Schumacher , Fernando Alonso , Felipe Massa , Robert Kubica , Jean Todt
Teams Ferrari , Sauber