Jean Todt is a cool customer, a man not easily rattled. That's a good attribute to have when you are running an operation as big, and currently as troubled, as Ferrari's Formula One outfit. I interviewed him recently in his hotel suite. As befits an important man, our crew were in the grandly appointed room long before he and his fiancee, Michelle Yeo, arrived. We were assisted and watched over in equal measure by the small entourage that such men tend to require. There was one moment of our meeting which encapsulated why Todt is the coolest team principal of them all. After our interview a colleague was asking a few questions. I was watching on a nearby sofa when his phone rang. Without missing a beat he took it out of his shirt pocket, handed it to me and asked, 'can you answer it please?' before turning back and continuing the interview. Rather stunned, I tiptoed out of the room with his top of the range, titanium phone, pressed the green button and said as confidently as I could muster, 'Jean Todt's phone!' Message taken, phone returned, I had time to rue the fact that I hadn't searched the memory for Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley's private numbers. It also crossed my mind that I'd just witnessed the calm thinking that makes the Frenchman a brilliant operator, running strategies that normally leave his rivals trailing. This only makes Ferrari's current travails all the more puzzling, especially when they appear to have been the architects of their own problems with equal measures of complacency and arrogance. With rule changes on the horizon for 2005 and last year's championship already in the bag, they stopped developing their old car with several races remaining. They assumed they could just wheel out the old model for the first few races of this season and canter to customary victories, while the new car was fine-tuned. They couldn't have been more wrong. It may have been a good plan for previous seasons but it proved a disastrous idea for this campaign. It was soon clear that bolting the new aerodynamic specifications to the old car made it slow. It was sloppy thinking from Ferrari and, of course, a morale boost for their rivals. Perhaps for once the bosses of F1, the FIA, should be given some credit. Many brickbats were hurled in their direction for making more changes to the rulebook, and late in the day at that. Many people, myself included, said the changes were likely to benefit Ferrari who had the money and manpower to find a way around them. It hasn't worked out that way so far. Instead, it seems to have evened up the competition by forcing all designers to approach this year with a blank slate. The success of Ferrari over the last few years has been based on the winning momentum they already had, which enabled them to look to the long term and ways they could continue their dominance. This season it has been the exact opposite. Rivals like Renault and Toyota have sailed serenely through the first three races while Ferrari have scrambled to retain a semblance of competitiveness. The old car was so far behind the front-runners that the new car was pressed into service way too early. The gearbox certainly wasn't ready in Bahrain, and having to fly parts in from Italy at the last minute certainly didn't help calm nerves. The car certainly showed flashes of speed in its debut, but in doing so it chewed up its tyres horribly - not something you can afford to do when they have to last the whole race. Chris Goodwin, who as a racing driver and television commentator has his ear to the ground, told me recently that he wouldn't be surprised if it took a while for Ferrari to get competitive. By then it may be too late in more ways than one. The world championship could have passed them by, but more importantly the mentality of the paddock will have changed, their aura of invincibility will have been smashed. Whisper it very quietly, but we may be witnessing the end of an era in Formula One.