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FIA Saturday press conference - Monaco, Pt 1 31 May 2003

(L to R): Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren, Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams and Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams in the FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 30 May 2003

1. Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), 1m15.259s
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1m15.295s (+ 0.036s)
3. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1m15.415s (+ 0.156s)

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


Q: Ralf, tell us about Monaco under these new qualifying regulations?
Ralf SCHUMACHER: Especially, here, as you saw with Kimi on Thursday, it's very easy to make a mistake and just be at the back. It's a great achievement given all the problems and pressure we've had from the outside for the team; it's a great result, definitely.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the changes you made to the cars overnight since Thursday?
RS: Obviously I can't, but there was a lot going on, good new ideas. The team, since the beginning of the year, has changed a lot anyway and things go a lot better, although we still seem to have some difficulties on different circuits this year. But being here today is simply great.

Q: You were fastest on sector two, which I think includes the swimming pool section...
RS: I had some difficulties there last year so that's why I concentrated a little bit more on that sector.

Q: What words did you exchange with your brother at the weigh-in afterwards?
RS: I just asked him what the problem was and it simply looks to me as if (it is) the Michelins - but we know that the Michelin is better anyway - but he told me it was definitely today.

Q: It is much closer today than it was between Michelin and Bridgestone on Thursday - how do you account for that?
RS: Well, the Bridgestone seems to be a tyre that has a good performance under slippery circumstances when there is a bit of dust and the circuit is not too hot. But as soon as there is rubber on the track we seem to have the upper hand, which is good.

Q: Kimi, you obviously qualified sooner than these other guys here. How much of a disadvantage was that?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Of course, the circuit always gets a bit better but I wouldn't say that it's a massive difference. But if you get to chose when to start then it's as late as possible.

Q: It was very close wasn't it? If you just change the last two numerals of your lap time around you could be on the pole...
KR: Ah yeah. It's the same situation as it was last race, now it's just a different car but what can I do? I did my best but it wasn't enough. I think the front row is a really good starting place and I think the start could make a big difference in the race. If you get the first place at the start it's a big bonus but we will see what happens tomorrow.

Q: You seemed to struggle a little bit at Monaco last year - you qualified sixth and you had a shunt on Thursday. Do you feel much more comfortable at this circuit this year?
KR: Yeah, and last year was pretty much... I think I shunted every day at least once. If you have an accident, it's going to cost you so much time so that the set-up is really bad. This year I've taken it a bit easier, I've got more experience and I think that experience makes a big difference in the end. The first qualifying wasn't very good but I wasn't really too worried about that because I knew what was wrong and we changed the car a lot and from this morning we improved the car a lot and it was good in qualifying.

Q: Juan Pablo, how was it for you?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: I think we had a good balance. I think we had a little bit too much bottoming but it's okay. I think we've got a good race car and that's the most important thing. I think we're in a good position. I think it's very important for the team, the way it's moved forward, and last week in testing we did a lot of steps forward. I think the team is understanding the car a lot better and that really helps.

Q: You seem to have been very quick on sector three - does that mean anything?
JPM: Not really. This morning I was very strong in sector one and I probably lost most of my time from where I could have done this morning in sector one, probably. Sector three was a surprise, that I was quickest at the time.

Q: It's the first time that the team has gone so well in qualifying. Is the feeling within Williams BMW that you could potentially be on the front row here?
JPM: You never know here, especially with the new rules, with fuel, you don't know who's doing what. But we seem to have a very consistent car and I think it's going to be a close fight with McLaren tomorrow.

Q: Ralf, there are some circuit changes at Monaco this year. Can you tell us about those?
RS: As many of you know, I was always critical about this circuit but they've done a great job. Anyway, the marshalling is the best in the world, I would say - well, it has to be in this place. But the changes that they've made here have made it far more enjoyable to drive as well as safer.

Q: Can you go into those changes? Are you talking about the track surface as much as the...
RS: The track surface obviously, but also the re-cornering in the swimming pool area. The only thing that I think that they also have to do is resurface the other part of the track. It would great if they could find the money for that.

Q: A great lap time, very fast. Is that indicative of those circuit changes as much as it is the improvement in the cars?
RS: It is. The circuit is a lot quicker and gives you more confidence to push even more through the swimming pool area.