Q & A with Jean Todt
Jean Todt: First of all, I would like to ask for a minute's silence after the incident yesterday of Colin McRae, his son and his friends
JT: Thank you. Unfortunately, these kind of things allows us to give more importance to real things.
So, it has been an intense week since we last met in Monza, where we were definitely not happy about the result because we have been dominated. Because Felipe had, one more time this season, a reliability problem and I must say, it has been a tough week, very heavy, first with the hearing of the FIA with the decisions you all know so far. I waited until tonight to make some comments and to answer to some of your eventual questions.
It's very difficult to say we are happy, we are unhappy. Something which was very important after the hearing of 26th of July, if you are guilty you must be penalised. Our main competitor has been recognised, after new evidence, guilty, has been penalised with a soft penalisation, losing points for the manufacturers' championship.
If you get deeply into all this sad story, you realise that it's a very soft sentence which we respect. Today, it's no meaning to speak about the constructors' championship because we know our major competitor still has time to make an appeal, and we will wait for their decision to be able to comment about that.
The race. Since Friday, since Friday we had a feeling that we would be strong. It was not a surprise to be strong with the specification of our car, a bit close to the Istanbul circuit and since we started, since we started on Friday morning, we were competitive.
Yesterday it was a very tight qualifying where it was very small gap between Kimi and Felipe, both did a fantastic race today and it was great to have the seventh of the season, four for Kimi, three for Felipe, and now we are three races to the end of the championship and as I've said for a long time, we will do the utmost that we can to be competitive and to try to win the next three races. We know it's difficult but that's what we are going to try.
Q. Jean, do you concede that the championship points totals do favour Kimi more than Felipe and that it will be beneficial for Ferrari to perhaps use their support more to push Kimi towards the McLaren drivers than Felipe?
JT: I'm not surprised at the question. First of all, I think it will be very important to see if they make an appeal or not, to see if they make the appeal or if they don't make the appeal.
Because if we would have the chance of them doing the appeal, I think it will change quite a lot on the drivers' situation, so then probably the appeal will be judged before the Japanese Grand Prix and we may be facing a completely different situation. Before we know about the appeal, it's not something I'm going to comment on further.
Q. Technically, we don't understand why your car is so competitive on certain circuits. It seems that your car is better suited to the very smooth surfaces like Istanbul, like here and like Magny Cours and that McLaren are better on more bumpy circuits. Is that right?
JT: With all respect for the competitiveness of their car, I feel that we have been more competitive this year. Simply we haven't been reliable enough. It's easy to analyse each race. They didn't stop one race for reliability (reasons) and we stopped many times for reliability problems. We are paying the costs of it.
But otherwise, all put together, we know that in certain conditions - and it's something I already mentioned last week - Monte Carlo, Canada, Indianapolis, Monza - we have not been very competitive, or it was what we feel was a lack of mechanical grip and not enough performance on kerbs. So we are definitely going to pay big attention to that in next year's car but we cannot re-design our car for the end of the season.
Q. If McLaren do make an appeal, would you expect the World Council to re-assess the decision to allow them to keep their Drivers' points?
JT: You have been talking... I started to say that they have had a very soft penalty considering the whole matter. In a tribunal appeal, you have only lawyers. If you take the legal case... but I cannot deduct what will be the result of the appeal. If there will be an appeal.
But if you ask me, what they will do, personally I wish they will do. I think the result should be different. But again, it's a personal feeling.
Q. Jean, will you do anything to further the cause of maybe making a stiffer penalty or are you finished? Will Ferrari pursue the matter further to maybe make the penalty worse for McLaren?
JT: No. As I said, it's not a question... I had this question already one week ago. It's not a menu: we like, we don't like. We respect, we feel it's a soft penalty considering the whole story but we as Ferrari are not going... What was very important for us, as I mentioned before, if you are guilty, you must have a penalisation, so they were guilty, they had a penalisation.
Now you can always decide enough, not enough. We feel it's soft and if you speak... I know that yesterday the president of the FIA said that he confirmed that it was soft but we know in this business you have a lot of things taken into consideration and I can understand that.
It's much better to have four races, including this one, with all the drivers and all that, and I'm not arguing about that, but lots of things were taken into consideration in order to favour more the championship rather than this single bad case.
Q. Ferrari have won two of the three Chinese Grands Prix. Do you think Ferrari should win on the Shanghai circuit and do you have special preparations?
JT: For different reasons, I love the Shanghai circuit. We have already been very successful Shanghai. We won the first race and we are very much looking forward to going to Shanghai. It has been a fantastic job done, a fantastic racing stadium available. Fascinating to see how Shanghai is growing, so we are very pleased (to be there) and and we feel that we should be able to do a good race.
Q. Mr Todt, if McLaren decides at the end not to appeal, Ferrari is ready to make some orders for its drivers for the championship, and stop every civil proceeding against McLaren?
JT: You are talking about different things. For me, what does matter is the interest of the team so number one is the interests of the team. Considering the civil case in England, the penal case in Italy, it has nothing to do with the FIA and it's not of our responsibility in Italy, it's up to the judges who have the matter to cover and in England, we...
I know that our president dedicated this success to our supporter who had the idea of informing us about those stolen documents. But fortunately we had somebody, loyal and fair, who helped us in that and we don't have any reason to stop any legal action.
Q. What was Ross Brawn's involvement in the court case on Thursday and is his involvement a clue as to what he will be doing next year for Ferrari?
JT: So it's two different things. We ask Ross Brawn as a witness to explain a few matters about what is a chief designer, to comment about several points which were raised.
Then we knew that he was putting question about witness considering radio communication so it was important for him if the question was going to be asked to him to answer but in the meantime, Kimi Raikkonen made a witness statement about radio communication from his father to form a team, so the question was not any more submitted to us.
Maybe one word about that. I read so much about the skeleton for Ferrari, for the big surprise, what will happen over the last ten years. It's only skeleton if I use the word which was submitted was radio communication and in our business, most of the top teams... you know it's easy, all of you, you can just select radio communication and you will hear some of the team, not all of them, because some of them are encrypted.
We are encrypted, our major competitor is encrypted, so others are encrypted. Believe me, the level of information you get is not very high but it does exist and of course our QC asked one of the major witnesses about that, so that was the skeleton where we heard so much about.
Q. What about Ross next year?
JT: It's something I mentioned already. We always say that we will speak with Ross, we are speaking with him, so we already had a few discussions and at the moment, no decision has yet been taken by either side.
Q. Mr Mosley said yesterday that in fact the penalty for McLaren is too soft because it only concerns 2007 and that the team already polluted 2008. That was Mr Mosley's words. From your perspective, do you think that McLaren has an unfair advantage on you because of the information that they got for next year?
JT: About next year I don't know. I know about this year. Because I don't think it has been very well explained about this year, this year I will divide in two pieces. One is what was found those 780 pages which were found in July and our major competitor is claiming that they never used it, it was a rogue employee, to repeat the words used why those information which never went into their company.
But I would remind you of the beginning of all of that, where, on July 26, the explanation about a whistle-blower which was pure invention. From the beginning of the season, they had access to a lot of information which are not included in those 780 pages.
Even normally a whistle-blower is normally somebody who is giving information to the sporting authority but not to the major competitor, and when I read that in the interests of the sport, our major competitor may not make the appeal, I think that in the interests of the sport, while we were talking about a conduct agreement between both teams, everything would have been stopped, if from the beginning the FIA and Ferrari would have been informed about those changes of information which were accepted by the top people of our major competitor.
Q. After the minute's silence at the start of this meeting, can you give us so comments on Colin McRae?
JT: I have been involved in rallying as a co-driver from 1966 to 1981 and he was much younger than me, then I was a team director of a rally team which then went into a sportscar championship at the end of 1991 until 1993, and I did not work with Colin McRae.
But I still follow rallying because I like this sport and he was a great champion. I remember when he was world champion in 1995 and I saw last night on CNN some pictures of his skills and he was one of the best rally drivers in history.
Q. With all the spying controversy, do you think this has hurt Formula One or Ferrari's image?
JT: Really it is not good for F1. When you hear all of those problems in cycling, it is not good for the sport. What is very important to punish. When things are wrong you must answer properly to try and make sure it doesn't happen again.
The sport, the competition, and all that is fantastic. But you must know where to put the limit. We all want to win, we all want to go to the limit, but it is very important not to overpass the limit.
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