Ferrari team principal Jean Todt admitted to trepidation during Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix when Michael Schumacher's Ferrari caught fire during a pit stop, but paid tribute to the team mechanics who remained so cool and sent the car back out to...
Ferrari team principal Jean Todt admitted to trepidation during Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix when Michael Schumacher's Ferrari caught fire during a pit stop, but paid tribute to the team mechanics who remained so cool and sent the car back out to win.
"I was a bit terrified not knowing how much fuel we had been able to put in the car and not knowing what would happen in the last pit stop, because we didn't know if the problem was coming from the fuel rig or was coming from inside the car. So we had some worrying moments."
Todt admitted to being "surprised at how good the guys were to extinguish the fire. We then needed time to recover, to start again, we tried not to lose time, but in such a thing you lose a little time. When the car is running, when there is no fire, it's automatic."
But Todt refused to criticise either the equipment or refuelling itself. "You know if you take the number of times you refuel and the number of times you have problems, I think the result is quite good. I'm against criticizing systematically, I think we have to understand the job which is done to achieve what they do in refuelling and respecting the job doesn't mean that you cannot improve."
"I must say that I'm full of admiration for the safety that we manage to achieve, because if you remember cars were catching fire in the past without refuelling. For many years now, the problem hasn't occurred because of fire, so I think they've done a great job. Then of course, if you didn't have any kind of refuelling, you would be starting the race with almost 200 kilos of fuel in the car so it would raise other problems. We know that motor sport is dangerous. As it is, we have to understand what has happened and improve in order not to have that happen again. But refuelling is part of Formula One now."
Todt emphasised that while the mechanics helped to win the race in the pits, the new Ferrari 2003-GA was again able to follow up its maiden win two weeks previously in Spain with another victory. "It's always a combination. You never win only on the track. The guys need to do outstanding work if you want everything to go well. But definitely we were the quickest car on the track Sunday, you just have to look at the quickest times during the race."
"Because Rubens didn't do a good pit stop for fuel rig reasons, he could only manage to finish third so whatever you have, if everything doesn't work perfectly, and if everything is not completely optimized you are not able to achieve what you want."
But Todt did admit that, after the problems in qualifying but still starting from pole position, and problems in the race and still winning, the team had enjoyed some luck. "You know we have been unlucky some other times, this time it seems things were more in our favour."