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Post-race Q&A with Jean Todt

NEWS STORY
10/09/2006

Jean Todt: So I will first tell you what are my emotions and then you can ask me questions. We would say, we had one appointment today to speak about who will drive next year. We have maintained this appointment and Kimi and Felipe will be the 2007 Ferrari Formula One drivers. Michael has decided to stop at the end of the season. He will still be involved with some responsibilities with Ferrari, the detail of his responsibilities will be specified after the end of the season. From now until the end of the season, particularly after this outstanding result of Michael, of the team today, where, three races before the end of the championship we are three points ahead in the Manufacturers, two points behind in the Drivers' championship and five points ahead for Felipe for third position. We have a good car, Bridgestone has done outstanding work by producing, supplying us with very good tyres, so the team is very motivated, very motivated to do the best possible, to achieve what we want for the championship. Knowing the decision of Michael, having made that official, will be a further motivation to allow him to leave with a new Drivers' title but we definitely know it won't be easy. Our competitors are very strong but we will do our best.

Can we ask when the decision was made by Michael, that he would step down at the end of the year?
JT: It was made a while ago.

Are you relieved now that that decision is out in the open and the speculation can stop?
JT: Speculation, they were becoming more and more intense, because if I read the press, which fortunately I don't do too much in detail but what I have seen, it was quite clear who was going to drive for the team and what was going to be Michael's decision, but let's say now, I can share the point that between even strong speculation and announced decision there is a difference so let's say, one of the reasons we wanted to do it now was to be able to focus, knowing everybody what was the situation and to focus 100 percent on the end of the championship.

After forming such a strong bond with Michael, how do you feel about him stepping down.
JT: It's a mixed feeling. Number one, my final feeling I will tell after Brazil, because at the moment, Michael is very strong, among the strongest drivers in the history of motor racing, of Formula One. There are still three races to go, so that's what I have in my mind. When the last race will have happened, I will comment on that.

Does it make you feel harder about your future as well?
JT: My future is quite clear in my head since a while. Michael and myself, we are very close, we have a common friendship, affection, respect, we see a lot of things in a common way and we are professional as well. Definitely, with Michael, we will spend a lot of time together in the future as we have been doing since the last eleven years, but it doesn't mean that we need to work together.

Do you think Michael's decision was the right time?
JT: I knew the decision already since a certain time and, as I said just now, for some aspects I'm said, for some aspects I'm happy, but at the moment we are focussed on the next race testing next week, China, Japan, Brazil and that's what matters at the present.

Jean, do you think it's going to be easier for everybody now that it's out in the open, now you can work one aim of the two titles?
JT: I think we have demonstrated that nevertheless, whatever was the speculation we were concentrating on the work, so we will still concentrate on the work.

You are good at keeping secrets, how difficult has it been for the last few weeks that people have told you he is stopping, continuing…
JT: Honestly, I don't care so much. You know that. It's maybe a good thing or a bad thing but for me, I do care what are important things inside of the team and I knew that Michael needs support, he deserves support. It is important for him to have this support. Speculation, as I've said very often, is part of our world and I accept it. The day I will not accept that any more I will go because the only reason why I'm still in this business is because I enjoy being with the team and I enjoy the people around me and fortunately it's my choice so my choice is that it's more positive than more negative.

When was the contract with Kimi fixed, it was an open secret?
JT: Honestly, I want to concentrate on what is important. What is the important thing is that we never had any kind of pre-contract, we had a signed contract, that's all, so sometimes I was smiling a bit when I saw those speculations or that private meetings to try to get Kimi, but the important thing is that we feel Kimi is a very strong driver, very talented driver. I like him as a person and he's committed for the next years with Ferrari.

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