Maranello, 21st July - Victory in last weekend’s British Grand Prix tasted particularly sweet to Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro’s Jean Todt after Rubens Barrichello’s 5.4s win over Williams’s Juan Pablo Montoya and McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen.
“You know when Ferrari is winning, it’s always a good weekend,” explained Todt. “It was a bit unexpected due to the circumstances but I must say it’s quite pleasing and rewarding to see that Ferrari had such domination on a circuit which is the home circuit of our main competitors.”
Todt was also pleased to reverse the flow of victories which had been going to Williams. “It was very important to score a good result because since a few races, the tendency was going against us, so it was important to stop this tendency, which happened today.
“It’s rewarding when you manage to change a tendency, but you know how difficult it is and everything is not linked to us. But by pushing, by committing people and having strong organizations from people, it’s an interesting challenge. What is rewarding is to win championships.”
It was the package, said Todt, of engine, chassis and tyres, which was the deciding factor in spite of an early setback. “Rubens had a great race, a great weekend from the beginning. Michael (Schumacher) lost some important positions in qualifying. At the end, I don’t know how much it changed things when you see what happened on the twelfth lap where, due to the situation, after having our cars in a queue in the pits, we were eighth and fifteenth on lap 13. I must say that at this time I was not expecting to see a Ferrari success. But I think our package was so good today - Bridgestone tyres, engine, chassis, all the improvements we made on the aerodynamics - that finally it worked well.”
But it wasn’t just the recent test at Barcelona which had changed things, continued Todt. “It’s all the hard work which has been done since the beginning of the season. In two weeks you don’t change the face of the world. You must not think that the tyres we have been testing last week in Barcelona, Mugello and Fiorano were decided after Magny-Cours. They were decided a long time before."
And the Silverstone result wasn’t a guarantee for similar form in the next few races, said Todt. “We definitely had a better tyre here in my opinion but the asphalt, the temperature will be different at other circuits, but the tyres we will have will be different too. I think they have some interesting ideas, but time will tell. Normally, the next two circuits have got slow corners and it’s not where we have the biggest advantage, but then we have some others which have different configurations, so I think it will be very close.”
Todt went on to say that he had enjoyed the race as much as anyone. “It was exciting because lots of cars were further behind than they should have been. It’s clear that if you have a slower car in front of quicker cars then you have more overtaking, and our package was so strong it allowed Rubens to pass very strong competitors.
“It was a bit of a crazy race too, due to the circumstances. When you have all the cars making a pit stop at the same time so that cars from the same teams have to queue up to make their stops, it makes things a bit different, and it completely changes the philosophy of the race. It probably damaged our race, but not as much as it could have done.”
As for the curious intervention by a spectator on the circuit, Todt would simply say “I must say it gives good fortune, good luck to Rubens; it’s the second time he’s won a race in these conditions.” But Todt refused to criticise the circuit or security. “What can you do? You have spectators so how can you control spectators; there’s no way? It could have been more dangerous, but it ended up quite well, I must say."
Todt also paid tribute to his driver and team. “A lot of credit to Rubens, because he made the right choices on tyres and set-up with his team, but still, he probably has a fantastic car and he got the best out of it, and in difficult conditions. Normally, being on pole, he should have gone away and nobody would have seen him any more. So it was made unnecessarily difficult in a way, but he came out of it very well.”
And the result was good for Ferrari’s World Championship campaign and the future, according to Todt. “I would say that in the Manufacturers’ championship we have increased our advantage a little bit, so we are a bit closer to what we were a few races ago. In the Drivers’ championship we fortunately lost only one point to Raikkonen. I think in the last five races Williams have scored 73 points – 40 for Montoya, 33 for Ralf – and I think the others (McLaren) scored 32 points. So our biggest rival is probably Williams.
But what is very important is not so much what we lose, it’s the potential of what we can see for the next races. I think it will be tough but we have a good potential.”