Sunday FIA press conference - San Marino 20 Apr 2003
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - APRIL 20, 2003
1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h28m12.058s
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (MCLAREN), 1h28m13.940s (+ 1.882s)
3. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h28m14.349s (+ 2.291s)
(Michael Schumacher is represented by Jean Todt.)
Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile.
Q: Jean, an emotional day for Ferrari, a great win for Michael. Perhaps you could put into words for us what Michael has gone through and what he has achieved today?
Jean TODT: I don't think we should only focus on today, I think we should look at what Michael is achieving in Formula One. It was very difficult for him today and he did the job because he felt he wanted to do the job, and he did fantastic work for the team. On top of that, he's a driver. I think it's important that he shows what he is as a man and that's maybe the most important thing today.
Q: An interesting strategy from Ferrari, a three stop strategy which Williams also adopted; what did you think about your opposition before the start of this race?
JT: Strong, you know. Obviously we have deserved better than what we've had so far with the potential of the team, the drivers, the car, but that's racing. It was very important to win today here at Imola, the first Grand Prix in Europe, I must say, still with the 2002 car and it was important to give a good end to this unbelievable car. It was better than just finishing in a normal position, because its position is on the podium and that's where it finished today.
Q: Kimi, a two stop strategy, obviously compromised by your grid position but a great result in the end...
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, it was good drive for us, but the teamwork was great and the strategy worked quite well. I got quite a good start and then I tried to hold onto the leaders and everything went pretty well.
Q: You had a bit of pressure from Rubens at the end of the race.
KR: Yes, a little bit too much. He got quite close but it wasn't a problem.
Q: Rubens, I guess you're pretty familiar with the sight of a Williams rear wing by now.
Rubens BARRICHELLO: It was a good fight, a clear one. Obviously my race was kind of done by the strategy of Williams because I couldn't overtake Ralf the way Michael did at the first stop, and then on the second stop it was so close, again, I lost a lot of time, otherwise it could have been a little bit different, but it was a fun race in terms of racing and I was quite enthusiastic about the overtaking. Of course, I think he was going through a problem with his tyres at that time but it was my chance and I went for it.
Q: And at the end there with Kimi?
RB: I think he backed off but I didn't care much about that, I just saw the car coming and if I had a chance I would go. I tried all I could, but I only really had the last lap where I was close enough but I didn't have time to do it.
Q: Before the start of the race, did you at Ferrari feel or guess that McLaren might be on a two stop and Williams on a three stop?
RB: It's quite difficult to know what people are doing. McLaren haven't been on a quick pace the whole weekend, but obviously showing that they had more fuel the whole time. I'm not so sure that if they were on three stops they could have beaten us in qualifying, but otherwise they did a good job to go from sixth to second.
Q: Jean, it seemed that Michael was fairly confident about this weekend; were you, before the start of the weekend?
JT: Well, we can never be confident, we simply knew that we had a very strong car, but all people who know something about Formula One recognize that. We had very good tyres from Bridgestone and it was just a question of putting everything together, which was not the case in the first three races of the championship, so I was wondering if it would be the third time in a row that we wouldn't be able to do it, or if we would be able to do it. Finally we made it.
Q: Did things go pretty perfectly today for you?
JT: Perfectly? No. Ralf did a very strong start and he overtook Michael. Then for two or three reasons Rubens never had a clear track in front of him, but he's in a better position to explain that and that's why he missed out on a better position. But we are very pleased to be running in this situation, to be able to score such a result.
Q. Kimi, pressure for quite a lot of the race for you from Fernando Alonso at the start and Rubens at the end. How much pressure was Fernando putting on you?
KR: Not much actually. I didn't have any problems actually, I just tried to keep up with the leaders and do my best. There were no problems.
Q. We saw your tyres at the one point, your right front, which look liked as though there was nothing on it at all. Did you have any problems at all?
KR: No, not with the tyres. The car was quite difficult to drive with the second set but then the last set were good.
Q. You were losing a bit of time on the second set then...
KR: Yes because I was pushing so hard because the car was oversteering.
Q. Otherwise everything was okay?
KR: Yes, only in the second pit-stop I had some difficulties to get off the blocks because I came in in second gear and I tried to select first gear but I couldn't. There was no gearing and it took a bit of time to find a gear.
Q. Still leading the championship....
KR: Yeah it looks good so far. We need to push hard and try to keep our lead and then we will get the new car and be able to fight for the wins again.
Q. We are told the car will be within the next month, but the next race do you think?
KR: I don't know. I haven't even seen the car.
Q. Rubens it seems that your race was compromised by the pit-stop when you lost five or six seconds. The second stop...
RB: Not really. My race was compromised with not having the track free basically. I had three laps during the whole race when I could really push on the limit of the car and saying that I couldn't really use the advantage of my strategy. But having said that it was a good race in terms of fighting and so on, the last pit-stop did slow me down yeah, I could have gone through Ralf a little bit early and probably catch Kimi earlier as well. But the whole race was okay apart from not having a clear run.
Q. Michael let you past at one point, that wasn't a problem was it?
RB: No I mean it was very close when he came out of the pits and I think Ross (Brawn) probably had told him on the radio his race was secure and by that point I was on an extremely fast lap into the pits. It was nice of him to let me by at that time.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. A question for Jean Todt. How important is this victory, first victory of the year for Ferrari?
JT: It is important because we want to fight for the championship and if we had not scored those points it would have made life more difficult. Definitely to win the race is important because that is the way we work. We work to win races, to win championships and to win here at Imola in front of the 'tifosi', the employees of the company is something that is really rewarding. Of course we did not know it would be a difficult situation for Michael so it puts the family more close together and today is a demonstration. I keep saying it is better to answer by facts but sometimes the image is quite nice and just looking at the image of Michael and Rubens at the finish and it showed the spirit of the team. For us what is important is what is happening outside more than what is said outside.
Q. To the drivers. In the drivers' briefing were you allowed to cross the line at the pit-exit because some of the drivers crossed the white line and nothing happened?
KR: I don't know even what line you are saying. There is some line but it goes over the exit and you need to drive over it otherwise you are never going to get on the circuit. (Laughter).
Q. Two questions for you Jean. One is about the new points system. You closed the gap to Kimi by two points, how big a concern is that? Is it something that you need to think about as the season goes on? And second you mentioned about the new car, how certain is it that it will race in Spain?
JT: In the points situation, we knew that it was going to change quite a lot but in a way reliability is more important than performance. That is the main reason why we decided to go with the F2002 in Imola, because we knew that the car is reliable. The F2003-GA is definitely better potential but we were not happy enough on reliability to decide to enter it in this Grand Prix. Next week we are going to do a lot of testing in Mugello mainly with the F2003-GA. We are not far from what we want to achieve in terms of reliability and we will be in position to see exactly where we are at the end of the week, but we are quite confident that the car will be ready for the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks.
Q. Jean Todt was there any question of Michael not driving today? Was there a discussion about whether he would race?
JT: He had the choice. I think it was very important he decided with his brother yesterday to go to Germany and it definitely had the effect of being more comfortable having been there and then it was his decision. We at Ferrari would never push the driver to drive the car if he is not intending to drive the car. It was his choice, but I must say it was a very respectable choice. I think it is very important that today Michael has shown what he is as a driver and a man and it is a shame sometimes that people may want not to understand what he is. Sometimes we protect him, but today again I think he has done a great demonstration and we are very proud of him. I mean it is sad, Rubens is at my side, but we are very proud of both of our drivers.