Maranello, 30th May - Jean Todt revealed after Sunday’s European Grand Prix that Ferrari are paying the price of performance due to its conservative approach in order not to compromise safety for performance.
His comments came after McLaren lost the lead on the very last lap after a flat-spotted tyre on Kimi Raikkonen’s car damaged the suspension so badly that it broke going into the first corner at the Nurburgring.
As usual, Todt refused to comment directly on the rival team’s decision not to bring their car into the pits for a change of tyre, which is only permissible in extreme circumstances according to new rules.
This year, Ferrari have not qualified well, but their tyre has been consistent during the race. “You know the one thing that you can say or argue is that the rule of one set of tyres for qualifying and the race is a tough rule. We have interpreted that in a conservative way, that’s why we pay the costs in qualifying,” said Todt.
“It seems that no tyre manufacturer so far has been able to achieve 100 per cent of the new rules. You have one tyre company who is doing a better job in qualifying and a worse job in the race, and the other one is achieving a worse job in qualifying and a better job in the race. Better… I don’t want to use the word safer, you know, because then we get into political areas.
“What I can say after seven races I’m not sure, but it’s not good criticising anybody because when you implement a rule you have to leave that rule for a while before finding out how good or bad it is. And it seems it is a tough rule.”
Todt went on to explain that perhaps there is another element involved. “The problem is that the competition is so tough, so you try to go to the limit with every single ingredient of your car.
“I think the true story is that here at the Nurburgring, nobody has been driving here. So you arrive and it’s a question mark. You come with two choices of tyres. First of all, you don’t know if that will be a good choice, that’s why, since the beginning of the year you have seen some very strange situations sometimes.
“Look at Monte Carlo. In Monte Carlo, during the race, some cars were four seconds, five seconds off the pace. It’s quite self-explanatory, but it probably wasn’t the best choice of tyres. For us, we have sometimes had no grip for qualifying, so we pay for that, and it’s less spectacular, but then during the race it works. We don’t know what will be tyres in the next race. It is much more unpredictable.”
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro scored ten points in the European Grand Prix, the second best haul for any team, and closed the gap on the rivals ahead. But Todt would not say the team was now in better shape. “It will be better the day when at least a Ferrari wins and if possible first and second. That will be better.
“But otherwise, we still have this problem of starting low down on the grid which we’ve had since the start of the season, and also taking part in races which are 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 to climb back up the order, but one which was never going to achieve what we might have hoped.”
The team is testing at Silverstone and Monza this week, prior to the two North American races. “We are hoping to improve the situation, yes, with a lot of new parts and tyre testing. As usual, our tests are always big. The important thing is that the result is big. I am optimistic that we will soon be better placed on the grid, on the first two rows, and that will change things.”