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FIA post-race press conference - Japan 12 Oct 2003

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/17D , Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari F2003-GA and David Coulthard (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/17D 
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka , Japan, 12 October 2003

POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - 12 OCTOBER 2003
1. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h25m11.743s
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1h25m22.828s (+ 11.085s)
3. David COULTHARD (McLAREN), 1h25m23.357s (+ 11.614s)


Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile.

TV UNILATERALS

Q: You had to win this race and you won it from the pole, but it was difficult in those early laps?
Rubens BARRICHELLO:
It was always very difficult because we had a situation that I think helped our competition. It was not damp but some sort of small water in some corners. Going into Spoon, the right hander (before Spoon), especially on the first laps where Montoya overtook me, my car was very twisty so it was hard to keep control and I almost lost it on the first lap. It was difficult and I was praying, even though everyone knows that I love the wet, I was praying for it not to rain because it was our opponent. So basically I fought all the way, hoping that it wasn't going to rain, plus the fact that my visor was really fogged and in all the pit stops, they had to put rubber to keep it open, because it was very difficult. So I had to keep my concentration and I was pushing right through to the end because if we had a situation where it was going to be wet for three laps I knew they could catch me three seconds a lap so I needed to push all the way through.

Q: Rubens, a huge day for Ferrari - Michael has clinched his sixth Drivers' World Championship and this is the fourth consecutive Constructors' Championship you've been a part of at Ferrari.
RB:
And I'm so proud because even though all these years Michael has been the one I've been helping for the Constructors' I've been there as well, so to be the fourth year consecutively in Ferrari and win that championship and to clinch this victory - because I think Suzuka is definitely a driver's circuit - so for me to be winning this race makes me a proud man.

Q: Kimi, you were almost there. How big an impact do you think that shunt yesterday have on your weekend?
Kimi RAIKKONEN:
No, of course it didn't help us but it's past now and thanks to David for letting me use his car. I tried to get it back in good shape but I think we were a bit unlucky with qualifying yesterday. The last five guys or whatever it was got a little bit of rain and it didn't help us. But, you know, we got second place again. It's not very nice to finish second almost every time but we were just not quick enough to win the title this year. But at least we didn't lose because of bad driving.

Q: David, that was an interesting weekend for you - you had to swap cars halfway through the weekend and then obviously, late in the race, you were sitting behind Kimi. But how was the car for you?
David COULTHARD:
We never got the full opportunity in qualifying to know exactly where the T-car was relative to the race car, because of the conditions, but in the race I would say the balance, except on the second set of tyres, was pretty good. The second set, for some reason, had a lot of understeer and that was quite difficult for the first eight or nine laps but otherwise I was able to run in clean air and push reasonably hard and try and make a three-stop strategy as best I could.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Rubens, you really only had a hard time from two people - Juan Pablo early on and Fernando Alonso as well - so how much of a hard time was it?
RB:
I had a hard time all the way through because even though you think it was 15 seconds or something to Kimi and sometimes to David I felt that if it rained it could ruin everything in one lap so I had to keep on pushing. Okay, we dropped the pace towards the end to be safe but even then I wanted to keep doing high 34s because if it rained on the last lap it was okay but if it rained five laps from the end but did not rain enough to put on wet tyres we might have had a problem. If it rained enough everyone would have had to come into the pits but if we had all stayed on the track it would have been a problem for me. Talking about the beginning, I had a problem, a little problem with warming up the tyres and as I went through turn 12 going to Spoon it was slightly damp, especially for our tyres, so I got sideways and I had to back off and Juan Pablo ran to the outside and overtook me. He was very fast for the first three or four laps but then I was catching up slightly. But then my visor got completely fogged, I couldn't see anything and then I had the problem that somebody had run with a problem on their engine so there was a lot of oil on the track. I almost ran off and Alonso caught me out again so that first stint and the beginning of the second one was quite busy. Afterwards I could run my pace and concentrate on the racetrack.

Q: And Alonso, he was right up behind you.
RB:
Well, thanks to the Ferrari engine we were very fast on the straight so I was relying on that basically. He had fantastic traction out of turn 16, the last chicane, but I was able to keep him behind and quite honestly that was okay, I could do that no problem.

Q: Today, obviously, you have helped your team to win the constructors' championship and your team-mate has made history as well. Just give us a few words on their achievements, the team's and also your team-mate's.
RB:
Well, I think I have one of the toughest jobs not because I am here sitting in front of the television or the journalists but sometimes just being a team-mate to Michael makes life difficult, what people write or what people say. So I am proud of what I have achieved this year. Even though I didn't achieve as many points as last year or the position that I finished last year I think it has been a much better year for me, much more competitive. I have been on top all the time and I think I have made a step up. That was really good and so the team did a fantastic job to provide both cars with the reliability and the performance they had. My engineers and my mechanics have all been very good and I think everybody has to be proud of the achievement. It is four years in a row that I am part of the team that has won a lot.

Q: Kimi, you did as much as you could. The car, especially in comparison with David's towards the end, didn't seem to be at its best today.
KR:
No. We have been struggling with set-up a little bit this weekend. We just didn't get it right. The first set of tyres was pretty much okay but then on the second I was struggling quite a lot with the grip. It wasn't like just understeering or oversteering it was everything. It was quite hard, I was pushing as hard as I could but I was just not very quick.

Q: Earlier on you were right up behind Cristiano da Matta. Were you much quicker than him?
KR:
Yeah, I think so, like a second, but they were quite quick in a straight line and I was not getting very good traction out of the last chicane. I always got very close but not quite close enough to try overtaking him into turn one and it cost me quite a lot of time but that is racing and next time we try to get past.

Q: Second in the world championship was not what you were hoping because everyone aims for first. But what are your feelings after this season?
KR:
I think it has been a good season for us and for me. Okay we really had big expectations before the start of the season and I think we have done very well. We have been quite quick and the car has been much better, much more reliable than last year and we have improved a lot. Thanks to the team, they have worked very hard all season, and to David, to everyone. But this year maybe we were consistent but just not up there on the speed and hopefully we can catch up for next year. I think if we can improve as much as we did over the last winter we should be in a good position to fight for all the wins and to have a good chance to win both titles.

Q: David, nice to see you. The car actually seemed to be quicker than Kimi's today.
DC:
Yeah, I think I only had one set of tyres which gave me problems, which was the second set, and I can imagine what Kimi's car felt like if each of his tyres were like that. So we need to understand what exactly caused that problem. But otherwise the other sets allowed me to push and largely I was in clean air so I didn't really have any problems with traffic.

Q: Well, you were behind Kimi a couple of times and also behind Jarno Trulli and Jenson. I thought it was quite a lively race for you in many ways.
DC:
Yeah, but never really in a position to race with anyone so it was just a question of trying to run the strategy and try to be as quick as possible.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: Kimi, did the pit-stop strategy affect your car's performance?
KR:
I think we had a good strategy but it is hard to say really whether it would have been quicker with three stops than two stops but I think overall we would not have been as quick as Rubens and it wouldn't have helped much.

Q: Kimi, did you change the strategy during the race after you saw what happened to Michael?
KR:
No, we were planning a two stop anyway. I think they changed it a little bit for David but we were planning this.

Q: Kimi, did you think you were going to be world champion at any moment in the race?
KR:
I guess there was always a chance until we went over the line to finish the race and there have been many times when people have retired on the last lap. We were pushing until then and hoping for the best and you never know. This time it wasn't enough but we try it again next year.

Q: Can we get a reaction from all three of you of what Michael has achieved now? Six titles, 70 wins - that is an incredible achievement isn't it?
RB:
It is. I think we are never going to compare drivers and I think it is impossible to compare Michael to Fangio, to Senna or whoever is in the frame, but I think he moves to history with a lot of achievements and it seems he is going to beat all the ones. I mean, everyone thought that the pole positions, he was so far away three years ago and it is not that far as well I think, so it is such an achievement.

Q: David, Kimi, would you add anything?
(silence)