Todt: Ferrari Catching Up with Renault

Ferrari are much closer to Formula One rivals Renault than widely believed and will make a leap forward in the Championship at next week's San Marino Grand Prix, team boss Jean Todt said on Sunday

Todt: Ferrari Catching Up with Renault

In an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper, Todt also said that the rule changes introduced this year had hit Ferrari especially hard, although he conceded that their rivals had worked better in the off-season.

"Our gap to Renault is much smaller than everyone thinks," Todt said. "We know our weaknesses but we also know what we're capable of doing. We were very fast in Bahrain and will be even stronger in Imola. Hopefully strong enough for the victory."

Ferrari introduced their F2005 at the last race in Bahrain, bringing its debut forward by two races in response to Renault's early season domination.

Neither defending champion Michael Schumacher nor teammate Rubens Barrichello scored any points in that race, with the German making the worst start to a season in his career with just two points from three starts.

Renault's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso leads the Championship with 26 points and his team will be chasing their fourth win in a row next week. Ferrari, constructors' champions for the past six years, are in sixth place with just 10 points to Renault's 36.

Asked if he was annoyed by the rule changes instituted by world governing body the FIA for this season, Todt said: "No, they're the same for everyone. Yet I'm convinced that Ferrari would be in a better position if the FIA had not changed the rules. Nevertheless, we're responsible for our own misery."

Todt also quashed speculation Ferrari were interested in signing Alonso and said he had his eye on other talented young drivers.

"I certainly don't have a 'stand-by-Schumacher' who could suddenly jump in (if Schumacher retires)," Todt said. "But we're not sleeping. There are several talented drivers. They all have contracts.

"Who keeps saying we want Alonso?" Todt said. "He's got talent, okay. But there are other drivers, even very good ones. I can tell you this: Alonso is not at the top of our list.

"Even if this may not sound very respectful to Alonso, I consider a young man who drives for a German-English team to be the better choice," Todt said. When asked by Bild am Sonntag if he meant McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, Todt laughed and said: "Next question."

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