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Todt on the European GP, strategy and tyre safety

NEWS STORY
30/05/2005

In his (now) traditional sit-down with journalists at the end of the weekend's racing activities, Jean Todt was first asked how he felt about the result, which saw Ferrari drivers, Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher, add ten points to the team's tally. Did this mark a sign of improvement, are things getting better for the Scuderia?

"Better? No, it's not better," he replied, firmly. "It will be better the day when at least a Ferrari wins and if possible first and second. That will be better.

"Otherwise, we still have this problem of starting low down on the grid which we've had since the start and of the season," he continues, "and also taking part in races which are also as chaotic as today, with the rather lively start after which Rubens was ninth and Michael 14th or 15th. After that, it was a difficult race with no course but a climb back up the order, but one which was never going to achieve what we might have hoped."

The first corner incident worked well for Rubens it is pointed out.

"Yes," says the Frenchman, "but the results are a function of the facts and not 'but for the accident' or 'with a bad position on the grid' so what I see today is that we were third and fifth and that does not compare to our ambitions."

Could the Brazilian have won, had the race been a little more ;incident-free?

"I think it would have been very difficult," he admits. "If… if…," he continues, "there's no point in analysing 'what if'. We have to analyse the thing with what happened, and clearly what happened is that we have been starting too far back, because if we had been more in front on the grid, we would not have been penalised by an incident at the start, so it's up to us to try to be higher on the grid and then that will certainly change the physiognomy of the race.

"You you can see some of the competitors with one right in the front, and one car in the middle. They have two different races. So we need to be able to start more in front, and at the moment we struggle to do that."

Asked if the car's potential has improved, in comparison to Monaco, Todt responds: "No. At Monaco, in terms of performance during the race, we were probably better than we were this weekend.

"The problem was that at Monaco overtaking was more difficult than on circuits such as Nurburgring, and unfortunately we weren't able to confirm this difference in performance in comparison to our competition."

In two weeks the F1 circus goes to Montreal, an altogether different track. Does this give Ferrari cause for optimism? "I am optimistic that we will soon be better placed on the grid," he replies, "on the first two rows, and that will change things.

It's time to bite the bullet and ask, "Is the championship over for Michael?"

There's a long pause, finally he replies: "We are clearly not favourites, but we also know that this is a sport where things can change very quickly. We saw that today, on the last lap of the race, so one needs to be careful of making final predictions."

The Maranello team is testing in two different locations this week - Silverstone and Monza - is it hoping to make a big leap forward?

"We are hoping to improve the situation, yes," he replies, "with a lot of (new) bits and tyre testing. As usual, our tests are always big. The important thing is the result are big.

It's pointed out that this is the second successive race in which his team have got both drivers into the points, and that the ten points earned today are the biggest haul for the Italian team this season.

"Our aim is not to be the second best," he says, "it is to be the first."

A question regarding whether Michael's was on the right strategy is firmly slapped down: "The person who won the race was on the same strategy," says the Frenchman.

"It's normally more risky to go on a three-stop rather than a two-stop strategy. It's the first time this year that a team has gone on a three-stop strategy, two cars. It hasn't happened yet this season."

Of course, Rubens only qualified seventh though he was obviously running very light, how disappointing was that, especially when (technical director) Ross Brawn said Ferrari might have to compromise the race to get qualifying position

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