Q & A with Jean Todt
|By Jonathan Noble||Monday, October 22nd 2007, 10:46 GMT|
Jean Todt: "Everything has been perfect. Pole position. Quickest lap during the race. Fantastic job from the team. From the drivers. Kimi. Felipe. It is great support to Kimi in the final result. 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."
Q. Do you feel that the best man won the championship this year?
JT: "You know I hate saying what is the best. We had some problems and in the end we had too many reliability problems. I mentioned that several times and at the end we only had Kimi who could win the drivers' championship and 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."
Q. It was a remarkable comeback in the second half of the season. At any stage did you give up as a team, did you think it could not be done?
JT: "I always said when we were meeting at the end of the race, until mathematically it is not over we still believe we can make it. That is what we did. As I said before, don't forget that Kimi won the first race and Felipe had a problem at 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."
Q. What is your future now with the team?
JT: "My future now with the team is to have a quick dinner with them tonight, which was already planned. I need to fly later to Europe, so that is my nearest future."
Q. What about your long-term future?
JT: "I don't think it is the proper time."
Q. How much does this title mean to you?
JT: "It is fantastic. Each title has been fantastic. We are motivated. I love the team. I say that. You have to see Kimi, how he is smiling. Felipe was not so smiling but you can understand. It was tough for him today being dominant and having to support the team and his teammate. But he did it. We have a fantastic group of people and that is the best reward I have."
Q. The team that won this year's world championship is different from the team that won last year's world championship - different car, different drivers, different engineers in charge. What does it mean in terms of your confidence for the future for this team to move forward?
JT: "It was a transition year. We knew there was no point to go back again on 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 out of what we did not do properly out of this year to be better next year."
Q. Do you feel that you have the same ingredients you had with Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and Michael Schumacher?
JT: "You know, for me the most fascinating thing is a human being. And you don't compare people. So I will not compare Michael to Kimi, I will not compare 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. But we are amongst ourselves, proper people blowing the wind in the right direction and it makes us go quick, even if some times we go in the wrong direction."
Q. Do you think that after what happened this year with the spy story there is a different flavour to the world championship?
JT: "It is always different. You get older because the ingredients are different. I always said that what happened this year, I could never expect that something like that could happen. I am very bitter about this unnecessary story, which has happened, 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 out of 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 na´ve on certain things, but we had to move along on the sporting situation. And to move along was to try to win the racing and be possible to be first and second when we always kept the two things separate."
Q. Was it therefore important for you that you have now mathematically won the constructors' championship as well?
JT: "To be very sincere, I was counting. I knew we had won, but I knew that it was always said we had won only because of the decisions not because of the sporting results. So I will say that is better. That it is done on the normal side."
Q. You have achieved a lot of success with Finnish drivers in rallying. How much bigger is this?
JT: "You know, for me I don't see the colour of the guys or the nationality of their passport. What is important is to see what you have in your brain, and your attitude. Kimi is a great boy. He has a proper attitude, the right mentality and he is very well supported by the team and he did what he needed to do for the team. It is a very good combination."
Q. But at the beginning of the season, with the change of drivers and the new structure of the team, did you think you could win both championships this year, or in two or three years?
JT: "We started the season and we tried to win because there was no major reason not to get what we wanted to achieve. We know how difficult it is. We have been living a very tough championship but the ambitions were clear from the first race."
Q. Kimi has come close to winning the championship before but never quite made it. They say that when a driver wins a world title he becomes more confident. Can you see Kimi growing in his role and becoming more mature and confident next year?
JT: "Definitely you 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. 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."
Q. How important is it getting number one back to Ferrari?
JT: "Honestly, for me it is important to win the championship rather than to have the number. Sometimes you have a number that is not corresponding to your position. I don't care so much."
Q. Have you heard from Michael (Schumacher)?
JT: "I spoke with Michael before the start of the race. I have been a bit busy and suddenly I got a lot of SMS messages and I did not have time to read all of them. I am sure he will be one of the messages. I spoke with Ross, he called me."
Q. What did you say to Raikkonen after he crossed the line?
JT: "That he was world champion and it was great. And we are very proud of him, for him and for the team."
Q. There has been so much focus in the last 10 years on Michael. Was it important to win with another driver so quickly?
JT: "You know, maybe it is a weakness of myself but I don't take so much consideration of what is said. I know it is not true, most of the time. And Michael, he was fantastic in 2005. He won only one race because the others did not take the start of the race. Does that mean the others were not motivated? Simply we did not give him with Bridgestone the package that would allow him to win.
"Michael, he arrived in 1996 at Ferrari after being twice world champion and he managed hardly 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."
Q. Was it important you won with another driver?
JT: "As I said, we knew we had drivers that if we gave them the car and the reliability then we knew we could achieve it."
Q. After this success, is it easier to make a decision about your future at the team?
JT: "The final result is not going to affect my personal choices."