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Ferrari & Schumacher......Victory at Imola GP
By Ferrari Press Group....All Photo Copyrights..... Ferrari, Italy
Apr 24, 2006, 13:44 PST
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Yes folks, regardless of what you really is a team effort.

Michael Schumacher: "This win is only a taster"

Maranello, 24 April 2006 - The day after the race the feeling of post-race joy still hangs in the air: "Yesterday it was great to climb onto the podium and see the fans' joy and, I am not ashamed to admit, it was a special feeling. It is now that I have this feeling and now that all the fans who have always supported us are repaid", beamed Michael.

Despite the exultation that swept through the Ferrari team, Michael once again displayed the character that has made him the most successful driver in Formula 1 history: he is very realistic and is swayed only by the facts. "It is a fact that he have made up a lot of ground but it is also true that we are not where we would like to be, even if this victory is a taster. We still have much work to do; the whole team agrees on this. Yesterday's win is only the beginning". Consequently, Michael will be testing this week on Thursday and Friday at Paul Ricard and Le Castellet. He will be developing the tyres while Felipe Massa will work on fine-tuning the aerodynamics. Talking of his team mate, he revealed that "tomorrow is Felipe's birthday and so I would like to wish him all the best"!

The famous Schumacher "jump for joy"

Michael stands by what he said at the beginning of the intense Imola weekend. "Side issues do not help; we have to continue working as hard as we have been. This is the only thing that has helped us to get better and reach our goals. It is incredible to see how the team manages to go on improving. Days like yesterday are especially important as they boost our motivation. This is good for our dream team, one that knows how to fight!

Montezemolo: "I'm too old for this!"

Imola, 22 April 2006 - Another pole and another record were the high points of qualifying day at the "Enzo e Dino Ferrari" circuit, as Michael Schumacher set the quickest time in the final section of the session, with Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate Felipe Massa, lining up on the second row in fourth place.

Luca looks almost ahppier than Todt or Schumi

Michael drove a fantastic lap to take pole, even though the time he set on light fuel in the second part of the session was naturally quicker. Schumacher has literally re-written the Grand Prix record book, leading the table for points, wins, fastest laps and so forth. But one record had still to fall; that set by the late Ayrton Senna for the most number of pole positions. At Bahrain's Sakhir circuit at the opening round of the season, Schumacher equalled the Brazilian's record and today he beat it. Later, Michael admitted that the significance of what he had done had not really sunk in yet. Making a rare visit to a race track was Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and as the pole lap was completed, the team in the garage dedicated it to their leader, who was genuinely moved and overcome with emotion. "I am too old for all this," he joked afterwards.

Jean Todt: "It will be a very tight championship"

Maranello, 24th April 2006 - Jean Todt intimated that finally Ferrari had shown their speed after Michael Schumacher's narrow victory over Fernando Alonso in Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. But the Ferrari team principal refused to allow himself to be drawn on the effect the victory might have on his star driver's decision regarding his future, to be made later this year.

Todt said that confirmation that Ferrari had a good car came at the first Grand Prix in Bahrain, even though Renault won that race and the two since. "In Bahrain we could confirm that we had a good car, that Bridgestone did an excellent job over the winter.

"But for several reasons, which have already been raised several times, since then we did not get the best out of the package that we had. We had some reliability problems with the engine, which penalised us a lot in the second race. In the third race we made a mistake in choosing the tyres. It makes me smile because here at Imola we had too high temperatures for the choice of tyre that we made. And in Australia we had two hard tyres for the temperature we had.

Schumi lead from start to finish

"It is difficult when you play with the weather forecast, you don't always make the right choice. Saying that, we managed today and even if we thought the temperatures would be cooler we still managed to have Michael winning the race and Felipe (Massa) securing the fourth position."

But Imola would not be just a one-off like last year when Schumacher followed Alonso home, said Todt. "In Bahrain we were not very competitive last year and we were very competitive this year. Each race is different. Last year we were competitive in Imola, the weather conditions were different. If you remember Alonso won the race and he had no more tyres. The tyre rules were completely different so we are talking about two different things. Time will tell. Some probably think that was our race, Imola, some others don't."

However, in spite of the eventual outcome, his winning driver still didn't have it all his own way. In the first stint, Michael was able to lap in 1m 24.5s, but in the second he was three seconds a lap slower. "He drove a strategic race to fight Alonso, because of the temperatures and the fact that he was suffering a little bit with the tyres he had which were a bit too soft for the conditions."

It's now a 2 man race for the championship

Jean Todt admitted that he feared that they could lose the race in the second stint. However, he found it "pleasing" when Renault called Alonso in early. Ferrari made "a strategy correction" as a consequence, and brought Michael in on the next lap which secured him the lead.

Todt had some understanding of Renault's position. "When you have a lot of pressure like they had and we had, you tend to make certain decisions and sometimes it is a good decision, and sometimes it is not a good decision. If Renault would have decided to stop later, it doesn't mean it would have worked. Michael may have decided to increase his speed if necessary to fight for the win, so I don't think we can say that they lost because we put them in a situation to make that choice."

Todt went on to say that this was an important victory for the atmosphere within Ferrari "Everybody has been putting in so much effort, they have been working so hard and what is the best reward? To win a race."

Never give up......Never !!

Asked if he thought Ferrari winning races again might encourage Schumacher to stay with the team, Todt replied "you ask me the question as if I have to react as if Michael has already decided to stop. I was saying, and I have mentioned this very often, you are asking people to react to what has happened half an hour ago. Michael is trying to analyse the situation in a much deeper way. But one thing is sure: Michael likes to win, Michael likes to have the winning car and he knew at the beginning of the year that it is more like that this year than it was last year. Michael is bright enough to know that he cannot pretend that for 10 years he will have a car that can win every single race."

Yes folks, regardless of what you really is a team effort.

Todt also predicted a very tight championship this year - despite Renault's record of three wins out of four so far. "It depends so much on the car not the driver. There are some other potential World Champions - if they get the proper package. They will be hard fighters and what is sure is that there are a few teams, a few cars and a few drivers and the tyres are very close this year. The tyre manufacturers this year are very close to each other."

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