Todt: We had too many failures
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team principal Jean Todt paid tribute to his team and drivers after they scored a resounding one-two at Sao Paulo to snatch the Drivers' title for Kimi Raikkonen away from McLaren. He also revealed his satisfaction that the new era at Ferrari had been instantly successful, but also his frustration at the politics that had clouded the 2007 season.
Referring to the Brazilian victory that clinched them the Drivers' championship, Todt said "everything has been perfect: pole position, quickest lap during the race, fantastic job from the team, from the drivers, Kimi, Felipe. In the final result Kimi has been outstanding. The car has been very strong; the team has been very strong. We were not expecting to finish the season like that: nine wins, nine pole positions. So we are very happy."
Todt emphasized Raikkonen's remarkable comeback. "We must not forget that in Japan he was 17 points behind and today he is one point ahead. So he took 18 points in two races. Everybody who was betting on him must be happy tonight. I did not bet on him, but the team did a fantastic job as I said before. In a way, I believe in fair things and it was to the right team and the right driver, but it should not be me who says that. "I always said when we were meeting after races, that until mathematically it is not over we still believe we can make it. That is what we did. Don't forget that Kimi won the first race. So we were strong from the beginning of the championship. We had too many failures but at the end we can be happy tonight."
Todt was asked if he felt that the team still had the same ingredients as when they had Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and Michael Schumacher. "You know, for me the most fascinating thing is a human being," he replied. "And you don't compare people. So I will not compare Michael to Kimi, I will not compare (technical direction) Mario Almondo or Aldo Costa to Ross Brawn or Rory Byrne. But we have common points - they are dedicated people, willing to do the best they can, with team spirit. And the most important thing is to make sure that we have the overall level. and the mentality and the determination. We have been trying to face where we can improve, what did not go well enough over the weekend and it is a big focus. But I always said that we are not genius. We are amongst ourselves, proper people blowing the wind in the right direction and it makes us go quick, even if sometimes we go in the wrong direction.
"It was a transition year," he continued. "There is no point in going back over the reasons why it was different than it was over the last years. We knew it was a different challenge but that is what we like. We knew we had everything to be successful and we have to learn from what we did not do properly out of this year to be better next year."
For the first time, Todt revealed just how he has been affected by the so-called spy scandal. "I could never expect that something like that could happen. I am very bitter about this unnecessary story, where our main competitor did not have the vision to stop when they could have stopped it. So that is why we had to fight against that.
"In a way we are still fighting against it outside the sporting world, but that is something I could not expect. I did not know that it could exist, but sometimes maybe you learn things. Maybe you are a bit naïve on certain things, but we had to move along on the sporting situation. And to move along was to try to win races and possibly to be first and second but we always kept the two things separate." Todt has also taken satisfaction in eventually mathematically winning the Constructors' championship on the track rather than via the FIA's judgment against McLaren. "To be very sincere, I was counting the points. I knew we had won, but I knew that it would always be said that we had won only because of the FIA's decision, not because of the sporting results. So I will say it is better now that it has been done normally."
Finally, Todt looked back over his drivers and their achievements, particularly Raikkonen. "You definitely change over the years. A Formula One driver wants to be World Champion at least once. He has achieved that and I am sure he will try to achieve it again. Felipe did not achieve it and he will try to achieve it as well, like other drivers. But it so depends on the car we give to the drivers. Definitely we have two drivers who are able to win races if they have a good car, so it is up to the team to be able to deliver them a reliable and performing car. And then both can do it." Putting that comment into perspective, Todt concluded "Michael Schumacher arrived in 1996 at Ferrari after being twice World Champion and he scarcely managed to win three races. Why? Simply because the car was not good or reliable enough. So do not think that Michael did everything on his own, he made a strong contribution to the team but without the team he would not have been able to achieve a lot."