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FIA post race press conference - Austria, part 1 18 May 2003

(L-R) Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/17D , Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F2003-GA  , Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari F2003-GA 
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Austrian Grand Prix, Race Day, A1-Ring, Austria, 18 May 2003

1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h24m04.888s
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1h24m08.250s (+ 3.362s)
3. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h24m08.839s (+ 3.951s)

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

Q: A fiery dramatic pit stop, Michael, tell us about it from your point of view and your concerns about the car thereafter...

Michael SCHUMACHER: Well, I don't think there is much to say, everything has been shown on TV. I guess the mechanics felt I was little bit too cold and cool and wanted to warm me up! Anyway, I thought they did a great job under the circumstances to still control everything and the car survived. I had a little doubt for a moment, whether we had a problem or not because of that fire and how serious it was, but the car obviously worked very well, we were able to do very fast lap times to secure the margin we needed for the strategy.

Q: It was a very good race towards the end there as well, but tell us about when Juan Pablo Montoya blew up. There was smoke and at the same time you seemed to pass Kimi Raikkonen...

MS: Yeah, that was a tricky little moment, not extremely tricky because there was a sort of gap and I was already by Kimi at this stage but the point was I didn't know what Juan Pablo was going to do, whether he would stay off line or he was going to suddenly pull over and think he was still racing, so it was a little bit concerning. But in the end he stayed off line and he did a proper job. He could probably have stopped a little bit earlier instead of continuing around for the rest of the lap with an oily engine but I guess he was lazy and didn't want to walk back to the pits.

Q: Kimi, you had a lot of pressure from the Ferraris all day but made a great second place and you took something like four seconds out of Michael when it began to rain in the first third of the race.

Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, the car was quite good, it was good to finish in second, but I'm still disappointed not to have won the race. When it started to rain, I think the Michelins worked a little bit better than the Bridgestones under those conditions and we were able to go a little bit quicker but it was not enough.

Q: Rubens, you're a little bit under the weather and it was a hard race for you, particularly with that long pit stop affecting your race with Kimi...

Rubens BARRICHELLO: Yeah, I didn't actually feel good for the whole weekend because I have a little bit of a cold. It was hard to push because I was sweating quite a lot in the car but, having said that, I think it was a great race. It was a pity about the pit stop because it's a bit frustrating when you feel that you could have won the race or you could have done better and you lose time but things like that happen and I still finished on the podium, still more points, it is a place that I like very much. I think I paid the price in qualifying for having different tyres and it was a bit of a pity because I could not get past the guys in front, plus the problem in the pits. But the car felt good the whole time. I had probably the most consistent of the quick times, so I was quite pleased. I was almost ahead of Kimi but there was no way through, so I had to give up.

Q: Michael, what was it like from your point of view when the rain started?
MS: When you're in the position that I was in with a lead you tend to be a little bit more careful and, in terms of strategy, I felt pretty confident that we were running lighter and anything that you have to go wrong in the first stint does help you, so you just need to be in front and then maybe use the extra lap or whatever to pull out the gap. So I was just doing a careful job, I didn't know how much it was raining because it was quite heavy actually at turn one and two for a while, not so extreme at three and five and the rest of the circuit, so it was a bit tricky to anticipate what the circumstances were. Even being the first car, you sort of have to go through it. I don't know whether the others behind had the opportunity to see the car in front, how it was behaving because if you can see the car in front, you have a reference and you know what the circumstances are and you can react a little bit better. Anyway, at the end of the day, it was enough and it worked well for us.


Q: Michael, quite a lively afternoon for you and three race wins in the last three races...

MS: Yep, it is good for us obviously and it was an interesting and entertaining race I think. It sort of started to go our way and then came the pit stop which made it very interesting.

Q: The car seemed to perform fantastically...

MS: Yes, but honestly that was no surprise. We saw all weekend that our consistency was very good and our performance was great - we have a fantastic car, we know that.

Q: When fire breaks out beside your right ear, are you tempted to jump out of the car? What do you do, what do you look at?

MS: In these circumstances I was watching around what was going on and seeing the fire wasn't nice. But I felt the guys reacted very well with their extinguishers and setting them off immediately. I kept going but at this stage I didn't know whether we had done any damage to the car or not because I didn't know how long the fire had lasted.

Q: But you weren't tempted to jump out or anything?

MS: No

Q: And then later you had the rain, and also Alonso's oil as well, I think you went off on the oil at the first corner. How bad was that?

MS: Yeah, I saw the yellow flags, braked earlier, slowed down. There was only a single yellow flag so you do as much as you think is necessary, but there wasn't any oil warning and it meant that I drifted very wide. It was a crucial stage of the race where I had to make sure that I didn't lose too much in terms of lap time in comparison to Kimi because I knew he would stay out longer, so it wasn't a nice moment to have that happen.

Q: Without that run-off it could have been terminal, couldn't it?

MS: Yep, but that's why we want those sort of run-off areas for certain circumstances. You don't gain anything because you go very wide, it's very dirty, but still you keep the car together on the road and you keep on going. I think it's fair for everybody because everybody wants to see the cars racing, rather than stopping in a gravel trap and leaving only a few cars running.

Q: Kimi, second place, what happened at the start first of all?

KR: I did not have a very good start. I lost a place to Montoya and then I just tried to keep Rubens behind me and after the first few laps it was a little bit more stable and more settled to push again.

Q: What about the end, he actually got ahead of you. How hard was it then?

KR: Yes, I just tried to keep him behind and managed to hold onto my second place. It was quite difficult because we had a few problems with the car and to finish second was the best that we could do today.

Q: Can you tell us exactly what those problems were?

KR: A bit on the engine side but it lasted at the end and that is the main thing. It was hurting our speed a little bit but the main thing is to finish the race and score as many points as possible.

Q: When did you have that problem from?

KR: Quite early on, but what can you do? The team tried hard and everything stayed together and we had quite a strong race.

Q: Without that problem do you think you could have given Michael a bit more of a hard time?

KR: Maybe, but I don't know. There is no point talking about that because afterwards it is easy to say that maybe if we didn't have any problems...but no, I am quite happy with what we achieved.

Q: And at least you are still the championship leader...

KR: Yeah, but it is getting smaller and that is the bad thing. But we need to keep fighting and do our best.

Q: Rubens, first of all, you had quite a good start and nearly overtook Kimi...

RB: Yeah that is true. It was actually a little bit difficult because when I turned it was too dirty and I couldn't keep the line. I wish I was not as I was side by side, if I was a little bit behind I could have maybe cut across but I saw I was a bit ahead when we were trying to turn in but I couldn't so it was a pity.

Q: So how did you manage to get alongside him coming out of Remus and going into Gosser?

RB: I forced him to the inside, he was running with a little bit of understeer in that particular corner so I just analysed that and said okay I try to do the opposite because after turn three you have a turn to the right. With a little bit more I could have crossed really in front but as it was he was brave enough to keep his line and forced me on the outside to turn five and I got onto the dirt so there was no way back.

Q: And you weren't able to do it again?

RB: No because after that he improved is pace a little bit so I wasn't quick enough to get him. I had a quick car and could close the gap on him quite fast but when I got behind him the turbulence affected me quite a lot to actually get by.