Todt: "We have a very strong package"
Maranello - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team principal Jean Todt hailed the opening of a new chapter in Ferrari's history with Kimi Raikkonen's win in the first Grand Prix of the year in Melbourne, Australia on Sunday. And he underlined the unique atmosphere within the team as he described the telephone call he received from the outgoing Michael Schumacher as he headed for the podium after the race.
"We have started with new people, a new structure and new responsibilities, new cars," explained Todt, who was flanked by team strategist Luca Baldisserri, designer Aldo Costa and new engine chief Gilles Simon. This is the new Ferrari powerhouse, who have taken over the reins from former technical director Ross Brawn and engine guru Paolo Martinelli.
"I will say that on the performance side we are quite pleased because we have demonstrated that we have a very strong package - engine, chassis, team," continued Todt.
But Todt was equally delighted by the atmosphere within the team, particularly new driver, Raikkonen. "He seems to be a bit more smiling with us, which you know is not our specialty. But still, we are very happy with him. And he seems to be happy with us."
"Our relationship is just professional and friendly. He spends time with the engineers, the engineers are happy with him. And he spends time with the team. On Saturday I had dinner with him and Felipe and they were happy. It is just a good atmosphere and confirmed what everybody feels in the team."
"And Felipe is great. He is a good boy. He is a very talented driver. He improved fantastically last year and he is really part of the team. The team love him a lot and he is a talented driver, good guy. We are very happy with Felipe."
"And when you have Michael calling us when we are going on the podium it is demonstrative of what we are doing together - feeling happy together. And knowing the car has front-running potential makes us even more happy. But still we have to be cautious because what has happened over the weekend is not our standard, and we are not satisfied."
"Our weakness is that we have not been reliable enough," continued Todt. "But that was because of the problem for Felipe in qualifying. He started in last position and managed to finish sixth. So he scored three important points, but disappointing considering the potential we had and that he has demonstrated. We will have to carry a lot of effort in the coming days, in the coming weeks before Malaysia, to improve our reliability."
"But that does not mean we will not work to try and improve the performance of the car. We already have a development program which is underway and which will be pursued over the next days, weeks and month. But it was a really important, very encouraging and very pleasing result for the team, for the motivation to face the situation we have been facing. Definitely we are amongst the contenders for success. We could verify that our competitors are strong, but we will be able to compete with them." Todt was asked if there were any concerns that with the way the championship is like to pan out, McLaren can clearly give the advantage to Fernando Alonso, whereas Ferrari have two competitive drivers trying to take points off each other. Were there any worries over that? "You know, we are just starting the season," said Todt. "Our goal is to try to be as much in front as possible. There is no number one or number two driver. We will see over the season how things move. At the moment we are completely happy to accept what happens, in whatever order, as long as our drivers are in front." Ferrari PR