Michael Schumacher on his sixth world crown 12 Oct 2003
Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile.
Q: From the Fuji Television Grand Prix of Japan, congratulations to the 2003 World Champion, Michael Schumacher. Michael, you've broken many records in your career, but you've just broken, perhaps, the big one. In 1957 Juan Manuel Fangio won his fifth world championship and now you've won your sixth. Can you just describe your emotions?
Michael SCHUMACHER: Probably not appropriate, honestly, because it has been a tough year, a tough late stage of the season, and it has been a very tough race, honestly, probably one of my toughest. But I think what is much more worthy of mention, is the team and I can only repeat that every so often because again, today, they have done an incredible job to give both of us a car which we have been competitive with at all times. Rubens has done a fantastic drive, won the Grand Prix, so we won the Constructors' title - five in a row, which I think is the first time it has ever happened - in big style. Myself, I was a little bit messy today after having a little incident and that's why I said it was one of my toughest races because to come back then and go through the traffic and fight your way through, with all the happenings, with what happened with Da Matta, and Ralf hitting me in the back and so on, it was a very, very strange race and therefore the feelings haven't yet sunk in. I can well feel for the team but I can't feel for myself at the moment. I'm empty and exhausted. I'm just proud of what we've all achieved.
Q: What were you feeling during the race? Were they keeping you informed about where Kimi was lying and, equally, how hard were you going in traffic, with Sato, for example, and again with your brother?
MS: Obviously I had to go flat out, especially after I lost my nose on lap seven or eight, that was, and from that moment - it was in the early stages of the race - I knew Montoya was out and I knew the two McLarens were both behind Rubens and you wouldn't know what was going to happen with the weather conditions, with strategy and so on, what could have been the outcome in the end. So I really had to make sure by myself to at least be in eighth position. Thankfully I could rely on Rubens in the late stage of the race but I still had to fight because you never know if the car will finish. We are in Formula One and we have always seen things happening in the past, so you have to think about the worst to be safe and that's what I was trying. The fight with Cristiano and with Ralf and myself in between was quite a tough one and I really had to make sure I stayed and got that eighth position to score the point, just in case.
Q: In the closing laps of the race, when you sitting behind da Matta and wiping your visor as the laps were unwinding, was it difficult to keep you concentration?
MS: It was difficult for the simple reason that when I had the incident with da Matta in the late stage and Ralf, I locked up so heavily to avoid hitting da Matta that I had a huge flat spot and when you may know what it means to run over those very old stones, those ripple stones (he means cobblestones), that's the way I felt in the car. I almost lost vision down the straight because the vibrations were so huge, and you get concerned and you also have the knowledge that Ralf hit you in the back and you don't know how heavily it was, whether you might get a puncture and lose your eighth position. So there were a lot of thoughts going through (my mind) and you just try to carry your car as safe and as easy and as light to the chequered flag.
Q: Well, you did finish in the points, in eighth place, and you did secure your sixth world championship, your ninth with Ferrari including the Constructors' championship. Can you give us some final thoughts on the team and on those achievements?
MS: First of all, I think it is very strange for me because most of my championships I have won with a victory and here and now today I am winning a championship with eighth position which is last of the points, but still winning the championship which is a mixed emotion. But what the team has achieved is just fantastic. If you see what has happened at Hockenheim, in Budapest, how many people wrote us off, how many people wrote things about us, outspoken things. And here we are, we're back. We never give up, we're always there, we always fight, and I think that's one of the big strengths of the Ferrari team. Everybody in Ferrari is that way. It's just a huge big family and we are all proud to be a part of it.
See also: Schumacher takes record sixth title at Suzuka