Ferrari team principal Jean Todt has vowed to put the Scuderia's distinctly below-par performance in Monaco last weekend behind them, dismissing the result as nothing more than a one-off.

Felipe Massa ended the race in a distant third place, more than a minute adrift of winner Fernando Alonso and dangerously close to being lapped by the McLaren-Mercedes pair. Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, was a lowly eighth after destroying his chances with a qualifying error that had left him down in 16th spot on the grid.

"We all know Monte Carlo is a specific place," Todt stressed. "Take last year's race and the one before and you will see the 2006 Monte Carlo race was different to Canada two weeks afterwards.

"We have known from the beginning McLaren are very strong and in Monaco they were even stronger, so their success was no surprise. Qualifying was very close for Felipe because he finished less than one tenth behind Hamilton, but saying that McLaren were still quickest."

The Frenchman suggested Massa's challenge in the race came undone with the changeover to Bridgestone's soft compound rubber in the middle stint, a period that saw the Brazilian slip from a close third position not far behind Lewis Hamilton, to almost 40 seconds shy of the duelling Silver Arrows.

"If you take it up to the first pit-stop, Felipe was right behind Hamilton," he underlined. "We decided to put on softer tyres while the others stayed on the harder tyres. Then Felipe took over five laps to pass one car and in those five laps he lost 15 seconds. We knew the best he could do was third unless the others in front had a problem."

Despite now lying some 15 points adrift of the championship lead, Todt equally insisted Raikkonen remained a title contender, even though the Finn has not triumphed since the opening round in Melbourne back in March.

"It's still very open," he asserted. "If there were two races to go, then a 15-point deficit would be impossible, but 15 points with 12 races to go - an average of 1.25 points per race - is not so much.

"The team is well-organised. We rely on the people who spend all the time at Maranello or at the track to improve the development of the car. Michael Schumacher has been observing too, and if he feels he has something to say he will speak with the engineers. His input is always very interesting.

"We have a few modifications which we will have for the next race, because you must always push harder. We respect our competitors very much; they are very strong and have been more reliable than us at the beginning of the season. We need to fight in the remaining races in the championship."

 

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