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We're closer than people think, says Todt

NEWS STORY
17/04/2005

Ahead of the start of the European season, Ferrari boss Jean Todt has warned his rivals that the Italian team - which has won the last three Grands Prix at Imola, is catching up.

"Our gap to Renault is much smaller than everyone thinks," said Todt, in an interview Germany's Bild am Sonntag. "We know our weaknesses but we also know what we're capable of doing. We were very fast in Bahrain and will be even stronger in Imola. Hopefully strong enough for the victory."

There is much speculation regarding Ferrari's (relatively) poor start to the 2005 season. Some say it is down to the tyres, others believe that the team was wrong to start the season with its 2004 car. Then again, there are some who simply say that the Maranello outfit's run had to come to an end at some point.

Others claim that the new rules, introduced this season, have hit the Italian team hard, however, Todt isn't totally convinced.

"They're the same for everyone," he said. "Yet I'm convinced that Ferrari would be in a better position if the FIA had not changed the rules. Nevertheless, we're responsible for our own misery."

As Renault prepares to begin negotiations with its star driver, Fernando Alonso, who currently leads the drivers' championship, Todt was asked if it was true that the Spaniard features high on his 'wish list' as he anticipates the day when Michael Schumacher finally says "enough".

"Who keeps saying we want Alonso?" says the Frenchman. "He's got talent, okay. But there are other drivers, even very good ones.

"I can tell you this," he adds, "Alonso is not at the top of our list.

"Even if this may not sound very respectful to Alonso, I consider a young man who drives for a German-English team to be the better choice."

Asked whether he was referring to Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren-Mercedes, which would certainly fit the German-English bill, the Frenchman refused to be drawn: "Next question," was the response.

Then again, he could have been referring to Juan Pablo Montoya, also of McLaren-Mercedes, Mark Webber or Nick Heidfeld, both of whom drive for BMW-WilliamsF1, the other German team.

"I certainly don't have a 'stand-by-Schumacher' who could suddenly jump in," admitted the Frenchman. "But then again, we're not sleeping. There are several talented drivers.

"However, they all have contracts," he added.

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