Analysis: Ferrari on Road to Recovery

Ferrari team boss Jean Todt might have allowed himself a smile on Sunday after Michael Schumacher stood on the Formula One podium for the first time this year

He did, but only a partial one.

"Finally it's a quarter of a smile because Rubens (Barrichello) retired with an electrical problem which is not normal and Michael, after having passed so many obstacles, remained still behind one," he said.

"But it's encouraging. We know where we have to put our efforts and I hope that we can have a bigger smile soon."

After three difficult races, with seven-times champion Schumacher scoring just two points and the old Ferrari F2004 car hurriedly pensioned off after Renault had run rings around it, Todt could take much satisfaction from Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix.

Although Renault's Fernando Alonso won his third race in a row, and the French manufacturer's fourth, Schumacher finished a very close second.

It was apparent to all after the race that it would have been a very different story at Imola had Schumacher, who retired in the last race in Bahrain with a hydraulics failure, not made a mistake in qualifying and started 13th.

Had he matched the front row start he had with the new F2005 in Bahrain, there was every reason to suspect that he would have vanished into the distance just as he did so often last year when Ferrari won 15 of the 18 races.

Ferrari showed that they were back where they belonged and that the F2005, with its teething problems sorted and the Bridgestone tyres back on form, is a formidable beast.

"We were quicker already in Bahrain but we could not express it," said Todt. "But it's encouraging, it's the first points for the F2005 and let's hope we can have many more.

"The only thing which makes me happy is to see Ferrari winning.

"We need to improve the qualifying," he said. "We need to start in front - if we start in front we will be very strong. That's why we were so strong last year, because we were able to start in front.

"If we are starting in front I am convinced that we can disappear," said the Frenchman.

Ferrari's problem in the early races has been a qualifying system which stacks the odds against those who have performed poorly in the previous race.

Their tyres have also been an issue, with Michelin adapting better in the early races to new rules forcing teams to use the same tyres for qualifying and the race.

That was not the case on Sunday, with Bridgestone showing they had made huge progress.

"If we have a weakness at the moment its the first lap on the tyres or the second lap on the tyres and then the tyres start to come and they are very consistent," said technical director Ross Brawn.

"We've got to improve the first lap performance of the tyres and the car."

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