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FIA post race press conference - Austria, part 2 18 May 2003

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/17D 
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Austrian Grand Prix, Race Day, A1-Ring, Austria, 18 May 2003

POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - MAY 18, 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.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: Michael, have you ever had to deal with fire before and how do you prepare for circumstances like that?

Michael SCHUMACHER: I guess when I was a little boy I was playing with fire but I actually did, in my car in Formula Three, have a little fire in the cockpit but you sort of know that you have protection, you have the overalls and you know you can survive for a little while but I didn't feel very concerned, honestly. If you had seen fuel splashing around and fire burning it would have been a different story as we have seen with Jos (Verstappen) in 1994 in Hockenheim, but that didn't seem to be the circumstance here.

Q: Michael, you almost spun in qualifying and you started on pole position. Today you had fire in your car and you won the race. Do you consider yourself a lucky man?

MS: I don't know whether you should call that lucky. I think I was very unlucky to have the problem, honestly.

Q: Rubens, I know it was the same for everybody but after all the false starts was it difficult on the first lap because the tyres were quite cold?

Rubens BARRICHELLO: Yeah, a little bit. I think we all tried to put some heat on the tyres as we went there but I think the cars were running a little hot, every car was a little hot. For example, Juan Pablo didn't have the initiative to start. I had done it twice. You are there, concentrating yourself, and when something happens you need to go. But I thought my reaction was quite good because I had two starts and twice I had to press another button and brake not to run into Juan Pablo so it was a bit tricky today actually.

Q: Michael and Rubens, do you both feel Kimi is already at the same level as a competitor as Mika Hakkinen used to be?

MS: I don't think it is fair to compare, honestly. I think the point to make is that he is a very good competitor and a very strong competitor and obviously you see that with the results he gets.
RB: Yeah.

Q: Michael, after the critics last year do you feel a special satisfaction about your victory today.?

MS: I feel like a winner now, yeah.

Q: Kimi, can you explain how Michael overtook you because we did not see it on TV and secondly do you think the programme has changed for the new McLaren after this result?

Kimi RAIKKONEN: The new car, we are testing that next week for the first time and it all depends how good it is. If it is reliable straight away and quick then who knows we might end up having it at the next race but so far it is not been planned. But the pass with Michael, he passed quite easily. I decided to take the inside line but he had much better traction out of the corner and I was not able to keep him behind and he just got past me at corner two.

Q: Michael, the next race at Monaco is the one track that everyone wants to start at the front. Tell us about the difficulties in the strategy...

MS: The point is you want to have the right strategy but you want to be quite far in front so you have to find the right compromise and you work out over the weekend what is the right compromise.

Q: Michael, were you following the battle between Rubens and Kimi because if he had overtaken Kimi you would be leading the championship now?

MS: I was crossing fingers to be honest, not only for that. Rubens, being my team-mate and my friend I would choose him to be second rather than a competitor and also for the championship and seeing the final lap with them fighting, I saw Rubens already by and I was like, yeah! And then it was the other way around but that is racing.

Q: There was a moment before the race started when you were warming up tyres and Montoya pulled alongside you when you were stopping and starting and signaled to you and was a bit nervous about it. What do you feel you can or cannot do in those circumstances?

MS: First of all, the leader dictates the pace and the others have to adjust to whatever the leader is doing but I don't think I was doing something unreasonable. It would have been far more unreasonable to go very high speed and suddenly brake because then it is very difficult to react. I was just accelerating in first gear up and down, up and down and he was doing the same and coming beside me. I don't see any problem, honestly. I don't think anyone would have considered it to be an overtaking maneuver even if he had just gone by and then gone back. I don't think that's something anyone would be worried about, just a normal procedure.

Q: Michael, a brilliant Grand Prix, really entertaining. How would you rank it among your victories over the years, it was one you really had to fight for?

MS: The point is that we had been down to third position and fighting our way back up to first position due to some lucky circumstances, the blowing up of Montoya's engine and passing Kimi, so naturally fighting back from a low position gives you greater satisfaction if it happens at the end.