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Jean Todt, on tyres, McLaren, Rubens, Felipe and retirement

NEWS STORY
01/08/2005

Although his driver, Michael Schumacher, had failed to build upon pole position, his first since Suzuka (2004), it was a slightly more relaxed Jean Todt that sat down to answer some questions yesterday, than we have seen in previous weeks.

He began by explaining how helpful the Hungarian weekend had been in terms of development.

"It was very good for qualifying," he smiled, "even better than we could expect, and then very good for 25 laps during the race, and then a drop of performance because of a drop of grip.

"So slowly but surely we understand the problem with our friends from Bridgestone," he continued, "and we improve the situation. As I said, one week ago, we will come out of it, but it takes a certain amount of time."

The Bridgestone tyre appeared to be the only real change to the package that Ferrari brought to Hungary, but clearly it made a lot of difference. Did Todt think this was 'track specific' or the beginning of a trend, the revival? "It's a general trend," he replies without hesitation.

It's pointed out that the performance of the tyre appeared to fluctuate throughout the race. "That's because it is a completely different philosophy of tyres," he replies. "To be quick on the first lap, you have to change the philosophy, so you start to learn a new situation again.

"We were competitive in qualifying and improved the performance but not as we have the past level, where we were much quicker during the whole race. So slowly and slowly… you know, it's like a cocktail. We are working on it."

"Is it the construction of the tyre or the compound or both?" he asked. "Again, it is the whole philosophy of the tyres to last the whole race," says the Frenchman. "Another clear example, if we would have been in last year's situation we would have changed the tyres every 25 laps and we would have been very competitive for the whole race. Now, we are very competitive for 25 laps and then there is a drop of performance and we have to work on this specific part of the race, and on the tyre."

Sticking - no pun intended - with tyres, this was a new compound that Bridgestone brought this weekend; how long has Ferrari been working with them on this specific compound? "We test about ten compounds every time," he reveals, "it's a lot of compounds and constructions available and slowly but surely we are able to target and to better identify what is needed to be competitive for the whole race."

After qualifying Michael mentioned that the main reason for the major progress is the tyre performance: "I think it has had quite a good effect, yes," says Todt.

Asked to put a 'number' on it, say 60 or 40 per cent, he replies: "I cannot."

So, was it a new construction or new compound? "An evolution of what we had in Hockenheim," he reveals.

Asked if Michael has to be conservative from the beginning of the race, he replies: "Until the 21st lap he was quick, then he started to be conservative."

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