Jean Todt, WMSC verdict on McLaren “very soft” 

Written by David on September 18th, 2007 at 11:00 amLast Update: September 18th, 2007 at 11:00 am

FIA Hearing: no penalty for McLarenFerrari team principal Jean Todt said that he feels the 2007 Drivers’ championship could be very different if McLaren appeal the penalty imposed on them at the World Council last week. He also called the $100m penalty and loss of Constructors’ points ‘soft’ and suggested that an appeal could provoke an even more serious penalty.

Todt was speaking after his drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa finished first and second in the Belgian Grand Prix, the final race in Europe before the last three overseas Grand Prix of the season. It had marked a total reversal of form in comparison to the Italian Grand Prix the previous weekend but now his drivers had closed the gap to McLaren’s.

“If you get deeply into all this sad story,” said Todt in Belgium, referring to the spying case of which McLaren had been found guilty, “you realise that it’s a very soft sentence which we respect. Today, it has no meaning to speak about the Drivers’ 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. It will be very important to see if they make an appeal or not. If they do appeal, I think it will change the Drivers’ situation quite a lot. The appeal would probably be judged before the Japanese Grand Prix and we may therefore be facing a completely different situation. Before we know about the appeal, it’s not something I’m going to comment on further.” However, Todt admitted that “if you ask me what they will do, personally I wish they will do (an appeal) . I think the result should be different. But again, it’s a personal feeling.”

Todt pointed out that there was nothing in his power to affect the FIA’s penalty or even any penalty in the case of an appeal, but Ferrari has its own view. “We feel it’s a soft penalty considering the whole story. What was very important for us, as I mentioned before, is that if you are guilty, you must be penalised. So they were guilty, they were penalised. Now you can always decide enough, not enough. 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 to take a lot of things into consideration and I can understand that. It’s much better to have four races, including this one, with all the drivers and I’m not arguing about that, but lots of things were taken into consideration in order to favour the championship rather than this single bad case.”

Todt also pointed out that there was no chance of Ferrari stopping its civil actions against McLaren if they decided not to appeal. “For me, what matters are the team’s interests. Considering the civil case in England, the penal case in Italy, it has nothing to do with the FIA. It’s up to the judges to cover the matter. I know that our president dedicated this success to our supporter who had the idea of informing us about those stolen documents. Fortunately we had somebody loyal and fair who helped us in that and we don’t have any reason to stop any legal action.”

But Todt emphasised that a punishment was important, even if the controversy had damaged Formula One’s and even Ferrari’s image. “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 is 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.”

Finally, having called for a minute’s silence in memory of former rally champion Colin McRae, who died the previous day in a helicopter crash, Todt paid his own tribute to the former World Rally champion. “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, so 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 television some pictures of his skills. He was one of the best rally drivers in history.”

source: Ferrari

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