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Saturday FIA press conference 14 Jun 2003

(L to R): Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams, Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams and Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari in the press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, 14 June 2003

POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE - SATURDAY JUNE 14, 2003
1. Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), 1m15.529s
2. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1m15.923s (+ 0.394s)
3. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m16.047s (+ 0.518s)


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

TV UNILATERALS

Q: Ralf, would it be unkind to say that was a surprise today?
Ralf SCHUMACHER:
It certainly was. We came here this weekend knowing that we could be competitive but after what happened yesterday and we had to go out very early today we expected to be in the top five but being on the first row is a great result for the team.

Q: It looked like a near perfect lap for you...
RS:
It was. I took it a bit easy into the first turn which I think might have paid off for me looking at what other people did there but the car was brilliant and it is thanks to the team.

Q: Juan Pablo, you were slightly slower than Ralf again in qualifying. At Monaco there was a slight set-up difference. Today?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA:
No. Today I think the cars were pretty similar. I just made a mistake into turn three and that cost me most of the time and in the last corner I made up a little bit of time back on him but coming out of the last corner I was too close to the wall and I had to get out of the throttle, so P2 is pretty good. I told him earlier - you keep doing the pole I'll keep doing the wins.

Q: Michael, it looked like a difficult warm-up for you. You are P3. I guess it hasn't slipped your notice that Kimi Raikkonen is at the back of the grid again. Tell us about your qualifying session...
Michael SCHUMACHER:
Honestly, if I consider the quality of my lap, being third I have to be happy because that wasn't one of my better ones. I am reasonably okay with the position I am in so let's see what happens tomorrow.

Q: Do you think that on a perfect lap the pole was there for you?
MS:
It would have been difficult. It would have been tight. Probably not. Honestly, the mistake wasn't that big. But we have to consider the championship situation and knowing where Kimi is at the moment and where we can be tomorrow that is obviously very promising.

Q: Ralf, it was dry and the prediction for tomorrow is for dry weather too, but it is quite cold now. Is that a problem for the tyres?
RS:
Looking at today it doesn't seem to be. I am surprised. It definitely looked that the Michelin worked particularly well today so I have no fear for tomorrow.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: So Ralf, two good Saturdays running. It has got to be good news...
RS:
Let's wait how the Sunday is going to come out. Certainly pole position is always great, especially for the team, but the Sunday is where it counts.

Q: The two of you obviously had very good straight-line speed. How important was that?
RS:
It is always pretty important. Looking at the long straights we have here it is quite simple to answer that but you sacrifice other areas for that. But I think looking at today's result we have found a good way.

Q: You had to make sacrifices for elsewhere on the lap did you, then?
RS:
No, we got the car brilliantly balanced and that is why we were able to do that.

Q: Did you change much after the warm-up?
RS:
No, nothing actually. I mean, there was not a lot of running. The most running we did was in the wet. We went all over the place with the set-ups just to try to fine-tune it and we knew pretty much what to do for the dry conditions.

Q: Yeah, because you actually had very little dry running...
RS:
Yeah, but we know our car by now.

Q: So you would be pretty happy with the set-up...
RS:
Yeah. All weekend it was pretty close. Friday, when Juan went out he was straight away fastest so the car was good from the beginning on.

Q: After the win at Monaco is there a change to the feeling within the team?
RS:
Well, certainly we have had a very difficult time after my last victory in Malaysia, very far back, so it has given the team a big push, which was necessary. But you have to say since the last race it was always there. I mean, Juan was in a promising position in Austria but just had bad luck so the car was improving, we just couldn't show its true potential.

Q: So the important thing tomorrow is to hang onto that lead, huh.
RS:
That would be quite good, yeah. That's the idea.

Q: Juan Pablo, similar situation with the car. Were you pretty much on it?
JPM:
No, yeah, we decided with my car to change tyres right before qualifying and I think that played a little bit and I made a couple of mistakes but the car is pretty good. I made the mistakes and I lost the time and that was about it.

Q: Again, very quick on the straight as well.
JPM:
Yeah, it is good power.

Q: Are you running pretty much similar set-ups?
JPM:
Yeah, I think so. They are not identical but they are pretty close. I am not going to tell you much more.

Q: You were asked after your win in Monaco if this was the start of a Williams return. I think you can pretty much confirm that now, can't you?
JPM:
Well, it is difficult to say. It is only qualifying. We have got a long day tomorrow. It really shows the car has a lot of potential. We said at the beginning of the year the car had the potential to win and we are really getting the best out of it at the moment.

Q: And the feelings within the team. Would you say it is...
JPM:
It's good and after today it is even better. It is brilliant.

Q: How much do you think the track had changed between Ralf running and you going out? Was there more grip than during the warm-up?
MS:
Maybe a little bit, yup. It should, be naturally, after all the rain has fallen, it should have improved but by how much - who knows?
RS: It looks like there wasn't so much more, was there?
MS: It's difficult to assess, honestly. I think the warm-up cleaned up most of it and whether there was... maybe a little bit.

Q: After Kimi went off, did you change the tactics for the race? You gave the impression that you might have done.
MS:
It looked like it in the first corner - I almost did the same thing as he did. So no, I just concentrated on my job and wanted to do my best and tried to use the opportunity, honestly.

Q: You hadn't changed the fuel strategy at that stage?
MS:
As you know, we cannot because after two o' clock we cannot change anything.

Q: What about the tyre war swing. Do you think it's gone slightly towards Michelin here?
MS:
It looks to be, yeah. The question is: how much fuel is on board? That's something we will find out tomorrow.

Q: Obviously the Bridgestones have been very, very good in wet weather. Do you still feel they are competitive with Michelin in the dry as well?
MS:
I feel we were far more competitive in the wet condition, which was very obvious yesterday and today, this morning, as well. But in the dry, things are very close. Who has the advantage? It's difficult to say. In qualifying it looks a little bit towards Michelin, depending on the fuel load obviously and in the race, consistency and so on, we will find out.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: Ralf, you seem to be handling the single lap qualifying a lot better now than in earlier events. Have you changed any way in which you're preparing yourself for qualifying?
RS:
No, not really. The problems I had were with the first two or three races really. It started to get a little bit better in Brazil. Usually, if you go back to last year's records, I seem to be always pretty competitive on my first of my four runs, so it was not really natural to me. I don't know why really. We seem to have found it difficult to get the car perfect for what I wanted and it's why I never got it together, and that situation has improved since the last two races.

Q: Michael, because we don't know the fuel loads exactly and whatever strategy you will be using tomorrow, how relevant are qualifying times really? Should they have an asterisk next to them under the current new rules system?
MS:
Let me put it this way. They probably, in terms of history, won't have maybe the quality or the meaning of what they used to have because now, whoever wants to drive with very little fuel can maybe jump to pole position and then have to come for a pit stop very early in the race. So there is this factor and to history it's different. But okay, that's the way the rules are.

Q: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
MS:
Well, I don't like it personally.

Q: Michael, what is your feeling going into the race knowing that Kimi is starting at the back of the grid and he's the guy you're trying to catch for the championship?
MS:
Well, you have to look at the championship and that's what I'm doing. And obviously, we had some misfortune earlier in the season and with these rules it works sometimes in favour and sometimes against you. We'll have to find out how much that will help us.

Q: I know there are no team orders as such and with you two up the front, and knowing how angry Patrick Head can get, are you likely to be having a little private conversation about the first corner?
RS:
No. First of all, Patrick might look angry sometimes but it's just his way to express himself. It's not meant bad. Second, we'll try and find our way round without hurting each other tomorrow. I'm sure about that.

Q: A question for Ralf. Can you describe your routine going into tomorrow's race, your evening, if you have any special routine?
RS:
I don't know if this is the right occasion here! No, I don't have any special things to do - a bit of marketing, nice dinner, go to bed early and wait until the next day. These days, with the rule changes, it is pretty...not boring...but for the drivers you can't change anything on the car besides tyre pressures and front wing, so our main job working with the engineers on the car has been cut down by the FIA.
Q: So no mental difference knowing it's Saturday, with more pressure? A lighter dinner maybe?
RS: No, no. I'm too long in Formula One to have anything like this?

Q: Juan Pablo, last week you spent some time with Jeff Gordon down at Indianapolis. Getting to know him as you did, and this is a purely hypothetical question, but do you think that if he did say two months testing, and he was in a competitive car like the Williams, where do you think he would have qualified today?
JPM:
It's difficult to say. It really depends on the track but I think he did a good job. I'm not going to say he's very quick or very slow. I think what everybody saw, all the team was very impressed with his performance and the team took it quite seriously when he got in the car and he did a good job for it.

Q: I wanted to ask Ralf how he feels about having his brother right behind him on the grid? Does that make you nervous at all, or are you used to it by now?
RS:
It's the best place for him to be, behind me. (Laughter). It doesn't make me nervous, no. It makes me feel good, actually, if I'm on pole that's the target of all of us. His target is to keep me behind him, so it's the same.

Q: Michael, Formula One is obviously very popular here in Canada, but it hasn't really caught on in the US. Do you think it ever will catch on there and is it even important to you, your team and your sponsors?
MS:
Well, I think if you see the history how long Formula One races in Canada and how long it does in the US, I guess that's the answer. Plus you have a Canadian driver, we don't have an American driver, so that doesn't help. But if you look at the rate of interest and the increase of interest even in the States, I think Formula One develops to the standard it has elsewhere.
Q: Is it important for your sponsors?
MS:
I guess so. The more attention we create, the more viewers we have, the more happy our sponsors are and the more they like to invest.