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Todt describes Stepney as difficult

NEWS STORY
04/10/2007

In an interview with The Times - one of the first F1-related articles the newspaper has run in living memory, which contains neither the word 'Lewis' or 'Hamilton' - Jean Todt talks about his relationship with Nigel Stepney, and how he tried to help the (former) Race and Test Technical Manager, a man he describes as "difficult".

"He has a lot of technical skills, organisational skills," said the Frenchman. "He was a difficult character. He was not an easy person, but he was a good professional.

"When Ross left he was probably aiming for a stronger position than the one we were suggesting for him," he continued, referring to the 'departure' of former Technical Director Ross Brawn. "He was calling into us and saying, 'I don't want to come to races any more.' Then, after a good night, the emotion would calm down and he would say, 'OK, I am happy to come.'

"For me, he has been working for 15 years for Ferrari and he did deliver for Ferrari, so I felt it would have been inappropriate the first time he didn't want to come to races to throw him away," the Frenchman admitted. "He had a contract with Ferrari until the end of 2007, so I wanted to give him a chance to be able to demonstrate that, with a new organisational structure, even if he was not completely happy about his position, he could deliver.

"Two or three times I was weak enough to say, 'OK, he has changed his mind,' " said Todt. "But it became one time too many. We could not change our organisation every week, so I said, 'Finished. He will not come any more.' "

Consequently, Stepney was given a factory-based role based around improving reliability and procedure.

"In this sense I did defend him, it is true," admits Todt, "but I was never expecting the guy to lose his head,"

"He lost his head, that's all," he added. "Unfortunately, sometimes you have people who lose the sense of things and it's a shame because we all have some personal responsibilities. You should have some limits, some discipline and he did not know how to place limits on himself and the problem is that there is a high price to pay."

Referring to Stepney's claim that he knows where the bodies are buried, Todt is adamant that the Englishman is bluffing, and that there are no skeletons at Maranello.

"I have read so many times 'wait until you know all what Ferrari has been doing'," he said, "but I'm quite (happy with) my conscience over the past 15 years and, believe me, if Ferrari had been (doing anything), after all these controversies, it would have come out."

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